McDonald Hearing Services - Grand Rapids, MI

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. Here are just a few of the ways your hearing is connected to your health.

1. your Hearing is Impacted by Diabetes

A widely-cited study that looked at over 5,000 adults revealed that individuals who had been diagnosed with diabetes were two times as likely to suffer mild or worse hearing loss when tested with low- or mid-frequency sounds. Impairment was also more likely with high-frequency tones, but less severe. This same research revealed that people who had slightly elevated blood sugar levels (pre-diabetic) were 30% more likely to have hearing impairment. A more recent meta-study discovered that the link between diabetes and hearing loss was consistent, even when controlling for other variables.

So it’s pretty established that diabetes is linked to an increased danger of hearing loss. But why would diabetes put you at a higher risk of experiencing hearing loss? Science is at a bit of a loss here. Diabetes is connected to a wide range of health issues, and in particular, can result in physical damage to the kidneys, eyes, and extremities. It’s feasible that diabetes has a similar damaging impact on the blood vessels of the inner ear. But it may also be related to overall health management. A study that looked at military veterans underscored the connection between hearing loss and diabetes, but in particular, it revealed that those with uncontrolled diabetes, in other words, individuals who are not controlling their blood sugar or otherwise taking care of the disease, suffered worse outcomes. If you are concerned that you might be pre-diabetic or have undiagnosed diabetes, it’s essential to consult with a doctor and have your blood sugar tested.

2. High Blood Pressure Can Damage Your Ears

Numerous studies have shown that hearing loss is connected to high blood pressure, and some have found that high blood pressure may actually accelerate age-related hearing loss. Even when adjusting for variables like whether you smoke or your level of noise exposure, the results are solid. The only variable that seems to make a difference is gender: Males who have high blood pressure are at a greater danger of hearing loss.

Your ears aren’t a component of your circulatory system, but they’re in close relation to it: Two of your body’s main arteries run right past your ears in addition to the presence of tiny blood vessels in your ears. People 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 known as pulsatile tinnitus. The leading theory why high blood pressure would accelerate hearing loss is that high blood pressure can cause physical damage to your ears. If your heart is pumping harder, there’s more force with every beat. That could potentially harm the smaller blood arteries inside your ears. High blood pressure is manageable through both lifestyle changes and medical interventions. But if you think you’re experiencing hearing loss, even if you think you’re not old enough for age-related hearing loss, you need to schedule an appointment to see us.

3. Hearing Impairment And Dementia

You might have a greater risk of dementia if you have hearing impairment. Research from Johns Hopkins University that followed almost 2,000 people over six years found that the risk of cognitive impairment increased by 24% with just mild hearing loss (about 25 dB). And the worse the level of hearing loss, the higher the risk of dementia, according to another study carried out over 10 years by the same researchers. These studies also revealed that Alzheimer’s had a similar connection to hearing loss. Based on these findings, moderate hearing loss puts you at 3X the chance of somebody without hearing loss. The risk rises to 4 times with extreme hearing loss.

The bottom line is, if you’re suffering from hearing loss, you need to get it evaluated and treated. Your health depends on it.

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References

https://www.mayoclinic.org/diseases-conditions/hearing-loss/symptoms-causes/syc-20373072
https://annals.org/aim/fullarticle/741394/diabetes-hearing-impairment-united-states-audiometric-evidence-from-national-health
https://www.nih.gov/news-events/news-releases/hearing-loss-common-people-diabetes
https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/23150692
https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4632848/
https://jamanetwork.com/journals/jamainternalmedicine/fullarticle/1108740
https://www.helpingmehear.com/hearing-aids-facts/
https://www.hindawi.com/journals/bmri/2018/8541638/
https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3889339/
https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S1808869415310016
https://jamanetwork.com/journals/jamainternalmedicine/fullarticle/1558452
https://jamanetwork.com/journals/jamaneurology/fullarticle/802291

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.