Hypertension and Hearing Loss

Doctor measures the pressure of the patient during a medical examination and consultation in the hospital

Are you aware that your chance of developing age-related hearing loss can be increased if you have high blood pressure?

Age-related hearing loss usually starts to manifest in your 40s, 50s, or 60s. Your symptoms may develop gradually and be largely invisible, but this type of hearing loss is irreversible. Years of noise damage is typically the cause. So how does hypertension cause hearing loss? The blood vessels inside of your ears and your blood vessels in general can be damaged by high blood pressure.

Blood pressure and why it’s so important

Blood pressure is a measure of how rapidly blood runs through your circulatory system. High blood pressure means that this blood moves more quickly than normal. Damage to your blood vessels can happen over time as a result. These damaged vessels grow less flexible and more prone to blockages. A blockage can result in a stroke or other cardiovascular problems. Healthcare professionals have a tendency to pay very close attention to a patient’s blood pressure because of this.

What constitutes high blood pressure?

The general ratings for blood pressure include the following:

  • Normal: 120/8o
  • Stage 1 Hypertension: 130-139/80-89
  • Stage 2 Hypertension: 140 or Higher/90 or higher

When your blood pressure gets as high as 180/120, it’s regarded as a hypertensive crisis. Immediate treatment is needed when this happens.

How can hypertension cause hearing loss?

The blood vessels inside of your ear and your entire body can be damaged by hypertension. Usually, the nerves in your ear will also be damaged along with these blood vessels. Additionally, high blood pressure can negatively affect the stereocilia in your ear (the little hairs responsible for picking up vibrations). These stereocilia are not capable of self-regeneration, so any damage they incur is permanent.

This means that damage to the ears, regardless of the cause, can result in irreversible hearing loss. Research indicates that individuals with normal blood pressure readings tend to have a far lower prevalence of hearing loss. Individuals who reported higher blood pressure were also more likely to have more severe hearing loss. The findings of the study make clear that keeping your blood pressure under control can help you avoid the effects of hearing loss.

What does high blood pressure feel like in your ears?

In most cases, high blood pressure is a symptomless condition. So-called “hot ears” are not a sign of high blood pressure. “Hot ears” is a condition where your ears feel hot and become red. Normally, it’s an indication of changes in blood flow relating to emotions, hormones, and other non-blood pressure-associated problems.

In some cases, high blood pressure can exacerbate tinnitus symptoms. But how do you know if tinnitus is a result of high blood pressure? The only way to know for sure is to talk to your doctor. Tinnitus is generally not a symptom of high blood pressure. High blood pressure is sometimes called “the silent killer” for a good reason.

Usually, it isn’t until you have your vitals taken at your annual exam that high blood pressure is discovered. This is one good reason to be certain that you go to your yearly appointments.

How can you lower your blood pressure?

High blood pressure is usually a result of a confluence of various different factors. As a result, you may have to take numerous different measures and use a variety of approaches to effectively lower your blood pressure. In general, you should talk with your primary care doctor to lower your blood pressure. Here’s what that management could entail:

  • Avoid sodium: Pay attention to the amount of sodium in your food, especially processed foods. Find lower salt alternatives when possible (or avoid processed foods when you can).
  • Diet changes: Eating a Mediterranean diet can help you reduce blood pressure. Essentially, avoid foods like red meats and eat more fruits and vegetables.
  • Get more exercise: Getting regular exercise (or simply getting your body moving on a regular basis) can help lower your overall blood pressure.
  • Take medication as prescribed: In some cases, high blood pressure can’t be managed with diet and exercise alone. In those cases, (and even in situations where lifestyle changes have helped), medication could be required to help you control your hypertension.

You and your doctor will formulate a treatment plan to deal with your blood pressure. Can hearing loss from high blood pressure be reversed? In some cases the answer is yes and in others not so much. There is some evidence to indicate that reducing your blood pressure can help restore your hearing, at least in part. But it’s also likely that at least some of the damage incurred will be permanent.

Your hearing will have a better chance of recuperating if you address your blood pressure promptly.

How to safeguard your hearing

While lowering your blood pressure can certainly be good for your health (and your hearing), there are other ways you can protect your hearing. This could include:

  • Avoiding loud venues and events: Try to steer clear of overly loud noises when you can, as these noises can lead to damage to your ears. If these places are not entirely avoidable, minimize your time in noisy environments.
  • Wear hearing protection: Earmuff, earplugs, and even noise canceling headphones can help you protect your hearing.
  • Talk to us: Having your hearing screened regularly can help you maintain your hearing and identify any hearing loss early.

If you have high blood pressure and are showing symptoms of hearing loss, be certain to book an appointment with us so we can help you treat your hearing loss and protect your hearing health.

The site information is for educational and informational purposes only and does not constitute medical advice. To receive personalized advice or treatment, schedule an appointment.