From depression to dementia, numerous other health problems are connected to the health of your hearing. Your hearing is related to your health in the following ways.
1. your Hearing is Impacted by Diabetes
A widely-cited study that looked at more than 5,000 adults revealed that people who had been diagnosed with diabetes were two times as likely to suffer mild or worse hearing impairment when tested with low- or mid-frequency sounds. Hearing loss was also more likely with high-frequency tones, but less severe. This same research reported that people who had slightly elevated blood sugar levels (pre-diabetic) were 30% more likely to have hearing impairment. And even when controlling for other variables, a more recent meta-study revealed a consistent connection between diabetes and hearing loss.
So it’s pretty established that diabetes is connected to an increased risk of hearing loss. But the significant question is why is there a link. Science is at a bit of a loss here. A whole variety of health issues have been connected to diabetes, including damage to the limbs, eyes, and kidneys. One theory is that the condition may impact the ears in an equivalent way, damaging blood vessels in the inner ear. But it may also be associated with overall health management. Research that looked at military veterans underscored the link between hearing loss and diabetes, but specifically, it found that those with unchecked diabetes, in other words, individuals who are not managing their blood sugar or otherwise treating the disease, suffered worse outcomes. If you are concerned that you might be pre-diabetic or have undiagnosed diabetes, it’s important to talk to a doctor and have your blood sugar checked.
2. High Blood Pressure Can Damage Your Ears
Multiple studies have demonstrated that hearing loss is associated with high blood pressure, and some have found that high blood pressure may actually speed up age-related hearing loss. The results are consistent even when controlling for variables like noise exposure and whether you smoke. The only variable that appears to make a difference is gender: Men who have high blood pressure are at a greater danger of hearing loss.
The ears and the circulatory system have a direct relationship: Besides the many tiny blood vessels in your ear, two of the body’s main arteries go right near it. People with high blood pressure, often, can hear their own blood pumping and this is the source of their tinnitus. That’s why this kind of tinnitus is called pulsatile tinnitus; you hear your pulse. But high blood pressure could also potentially result in physical damage to your ears, that’s the main theory behind why it would accelerate hearing loss. If your heart is pumping harder, there’s more power behind every beat. That could potentially injure the smaller blood arteries in your ears. High blood pressure is treatable through both lifestyle changes and medical interventions. But you should schedule an appointment for a hearing exam if you suspect you are developing any amount of hearing impairment.
3. Hearing Loss And Dementia
Hearing loss may put you at a greater chance of dementia. Research from Johns Hopkins University that followed nearly 2,000 people over the course of six years discovered that the risk of cognitive impairment increased by 24% with just mild hearing impairment (about 25 dB). Another study by the same researchers, which followed subjects over more than a decade, found that the worse a subject’s hearing was, the more likely that he or she would develop dementia. They also discovered a similar link to Alzheimer’s Disease. Based on these results, moderate hearing loss puts you at 3X the chance of someone without hearing loss. The risk increases to 4 times with extreme hearing loss.
It’s crucial, then, to get your hearing tested. It’s about your state of health.