Health Issues Linked to Hearing Loss

Woman rubbing her leg after a fall because she couldn’t hear.

Your hearing health is linked to many other health conditions, from depression to dementia. Your hearing is related to your health in the following ways.

1. Diabetes Affects Your Hearing

A widely-cited study that evaluated over 5,000 adults found that individuals who had been diagnosed with diabetes were twice as likely to endure mild or worse hearing loss when tested with low- or mid-frequency sounds. With high-frequency sounds, hearing impairment was not as severe but was also more likely. The researchers also discovered that subjects who were pre-diabetic, in other words, those with blood sugar levels that are elevated but not high enough to be diagnosed as diabetes were 30% more likely to have hearing impairment than people with regular blood sugar levels. And even when controlling for other variables, a more recent meta-study discovered a consistent link between hearing loss and diabetes.

So a greater risk of hearing impairment is solidly connected to diabetes. But the significant question is why is there a link. When it comes to this, science doesn’t really have the answers. A whole variety of health issues have been connected to diabetes, including damage to the limbs, eyes, and kidneys. One hypothesis is that the disease could affect the ears in an equivalent way, damaging blood vessels in the inner ear. But it could also be associated with general health management. Research that observed military veterans highlighted the connection between hearing impairment and diabetes, but in particular, it revealed that those with uncontrolled diabetes, in other words, individuals who are not monitoring their blood sugar or otherwise treating the disease, suffered worse outcomes. If you are concerned that you may be pre-diabetic or have undiagnosed diabetes, it’s important to speak to a doctor and have your blood sugar tested.

2. Your Ears Can be Damaged by High Blood Pressure

Numerous studies have shown that hearing loss is connected to high blood pressure, and some have found that high blood pressure could actually accelerate age-related hearing loss. The results are consistent even when controlling for variables such as noise exposure and whether you’re a smoker. The only variable that seems to matter is gender: If you’re a male, the link between high blood pressure and hearing loss is even greater.

The circulatory system and the ears have a direct relationship: Two of your body’s primary arteries go directly by your ears in addition to the presence of tiny blood vessels in your ears. People with high blood pressure, often, can hear their own blood pumping and this is the cause of their tinnitus. That’s why this type of tinnitus is called pulsatile tinnitus; you hear your pulse. The leading theory why high blood pressure would accelerate hearing loss is that high blood pressure can lead to physical damage to your ears. There’s more force behind every heartbeat if the heart is pumping harder. The smaller blood vessels inside of your ears can be injured by this. High blood pressure is treatable through both lifestyle changes and medical interventions. But you need to make an appointment for a hearing examination if you suspect you are developing any degree of hearing loss.

3. Hearing Loss And Dementia

Hearing loss may put you at a greater chance of dementia. Research from Johns Hopkins University that observed almost 2,000 people over the course of six years found that the danger of cognitive impairment increased by 24% with just mild hearing loss (about 25 dB). And the worse the level of hearing impairment, the higher the danger of dementia, according to another study carried out over 10 years by the same researchers. They also discovered a similar link to Alzheimer’s Disease. Moderate hearing loss puts you at 3 times higher risk, according to these findings, than somebody with functional hearing. The risk rises to 4 times with extreme hearing loss.

The truth is, if you’re experiencing hearing loss, you need to get it tested and treated. It’s about your state of health.


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