Your hearing health is linked to many other health concerns, from depression to dementia. Your hearing is connected to your health in the following ways.
1. Diabetes Impacts Your Hearing
When tested with low to mid-frequency sound, individuals with diabetes were two times as likely to have mild to severe hearing loss according to a widely cited study that evaluated over 5,000 adults. 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 who have 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 revealed a consistent link between hearing loss and diabetes.
So an increased risk of hearing loss is firmly connected to diabetes. But why would diabetes put you at an increased danger of suffering from hearing impairment? Science is at somewhat of a loss here. A whole range of health concerns have been connected to diabetes, including damage to the limbs, kidneys, and eyes. It’s possible that diabetes has a similar damaging affect on the blood vessels of the inner ear. But management of your general health may also be a relevant possibility. Research that looked at military veterans underscored the link between hearing loss and diabetes, but in particular, it revealed that those with unchecked diabetes, in other words, individuals who are not monitoring their blood sugar or otherwise taking care of the disease, suffered worse outcomes. It’s important to have a doctor check your blood sugar if you believe you may have undiagnosed diabetes or are pre-diabetic.
2. Your Ears Can be Harmed by High Blood Pressure
Numerous studies have revealed 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 taking into consideration variables such as noise exposure and whether you’re a smoker. The only variable that appears to make a difference is gender: Males with high blood pressure are at a higher risk of hearing loss.
Your ears aren’t a component of your circulatory system, but they’re darn close to it: Two of your body’s main arteries run right past your ears besides the presence of tiny blood vessels inside your ears. Individuals with high blood pressure, in many cases, can hear their own blood pumping and this is the cause of their tinnitus. Because you can hear your own pulse with this kind of tinnitus, it’s called pulsatile tinnitus. But high blood pressure could also potentially lead to physical harm to your ears, that’s the main theory behind why it would accelerate hearing loss. There’s more power behind each heartbeat if the heart is pumping harder. That could potentially damage the smaller blood arteries inside your ears. High blood pressure is treatable using both lifestyle changes and medical interventions. But you should make an appointment for a hearing exam if you think you are developing any degree of hearing loss.
3. Dementia And Hearing Impairment
You may have a higher chance of dementia if you have hearing loss. Research from Johns Hopkins University that followed nearly 2,000 people over the course of six years found that the danger of cognitive deterioration increased by 24% with just mild hearing impairment (about 25 dB). And the worse the degree of hearing impairment, the higher the danger of dementia, according to another study conducted over 10 years by the same researchers. This research also demonstrated that Alzheimer’s had an equivalent link to hearing loss. Based on these results, moderate hearing loss puts you at 3X the risk of someone without hearing loss. The risk goes up to 4 times with severe hearing loss.
It’s essential, then, to have your hearing tested. Your health depends on it.