From depression to dementia, many other health conditions are linked to your hearing health. Your hearing is related to your health in the following ways.
1. your Hearing is Impacted by Diabetes
When tested with low to mid-frequency sound, people with diabetes were two times as likely to have mild to severe hearing loss according to a widely cited study that observed over 5,000 adults. Hearing loss was also more likely with high-frequency sounds, but less severe. This same research revealed that individuals 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 found a consistent connection between hearing loss and diabetes.
So it’s fairly well established that diabetes is connected to an increased danger of hearing loss. But why would diabetes put you at an increased danger of experiencing hearing loss? Science is at a bit of a loss here. Diabetes is linked to a wide variety of health issues, and particularly, can lead to physical damage to the eyes, kidneys, and limbs. One hypothesis is that the disease could affect the ears in an equivalent way, damaging blood vessels in the inner ear. But management of overall health may also be a relevant possibility. Research that looked at military veterans highlighted the connection between hearing impairment and diabetes, but specifically, it found that those with uncontrolled diabetes, in other words, people who are not controlling their blood sugar or otherwise treating the disease, suffered worse outcomes. It’s important to have a doctor test your blood sugar if you believe you may have undiagnosed diabetes or are pre-diabetic.
2. High Blood Pressure Can Harm Your Ears
It is well known that high blood pressure plays a part in, if not accelerates, hearing loss. Even when taking into consideration variables such as whether you smoke or your level of noise exposure, the results are consistent. The only variable that seems to make a difference is gender: If you’re a man, the connection between high blood pressure and hearing loss is even greater.
Your ears aren’t a component of your circulatory system, but they’re darn close to it: Two of your body’s primary arteries run right by your ears in addition to the presence of tiny blood vessels in your ears. This is one reason why people with high blood pressure often experience tinnitus, the pulsing they’re hearing is really their own blood pumping. Because you can hear your own pulse with this type of tinnitus, it’s known as pulsatile tinnitus. But high blood pressure could also potentially lead to physical damage to your ears, that’s the main hypothesis behind why it would accelerate hearing loss. If your heart is pumping harder, there’s more force behind every beat. The smaller blood vessels in your ears can be damaged by this. Both medical intervention and lifestyle changes can be used to help regulate high blood pressure. But you should make an appointment for a hearing test if you think you are developing any amount of hearing impairment.
3. Dementia And Hearing Loss
You may have a higher chance of dementia if you have hearing loss. Studies from Johns Hopkins University that observed almost 2,000 people over six years found 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, discovered that the worse a subject’s hearing was, the more likely that he or she would develop dementia. These studies also demonstrated that Alzheimer’s had a similar connection to hearing loss. Moderate hearing loss puts you at 3 times higher risk, based on these findings, than somebody with functional hearing. The risk goes up to 4 times with severe hearing loss.
It’s essential, then, to get your hearing tested. Your health depends on it.