Illini Hearing - Champaign and Mahomet, IL

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

From depression to dementia, many other health problems are connected to your hearing health. Here are just a few of the ways your hearing is related to your health.

1. your Hearing is Impacted by Diabetes

A widely-cited study that observed more than 5,000 adults determined that people who had been diagnosed with diabetes were twice as likely to experience mild or worse hearing loss when tested with low- or mid-frequency sounds. Impairment was also more likely with high-frequency sounds, but not as severe. This same research reported that individuals who had slightly elevated blood sugar levels (pre-diabetic) were 30% more likely to have hearing loss. And even when controlling for other variables, a more recent meta-study found a consistent connection between diabetes and hearing loss.

So it’s fairly well established that diabetes is connected to an increased risk of hearing impairment. But why would diabetes put you at a higher risk of suffering from hearing impairment? Science is at somewhat of a loss here. A whole range of health issues have been connected to diabetes, including damage to the limbs, kidneys, and eyes. One hypothesis is that the disease could affect the ears in an equivalent way, damaging blood vessels in the inner ear. But it might also be related to general health management. People who failed to treat or manage their diabetes had worse consequences according to one study carried out on military veterans. If you are concerned that you might be pre-diabetic or have undiagnosed diabetes, it’s important to consult with a doctor and have your blood sugar tested.

2. Your Ears Can be Damaged by High Blood Pressure

It is well established that high blood pressure has a connection to, if not accelerates, hearing loss. Even when adjusting for variables like whether you smoke or your amount of noise exposure, the results are solid. The only variable that seems to make a difference is gender: If you’re a male, the link between high blood pressure and hearing loss is even greater.

Your ears aren’t part 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, often, 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. The leading theory why high blood pressure would accelerate hearing loss is that high blood pressure can cause physical harm to your ears. There’s more force with 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 using both lifestyle changes and medical interventions. But you need to schedule an appointment for a hearing examination if you think you are developing any amount of hearing impairment.

3. Hearing Impairment And Dementia

Hearing loss may put you at a higher risk of dementia. Almost 2000 people were analyzed over a six year period by Johns Hopkins University, and the study revealed that even with minor hearing loss (about 25 dB), the danger of dementia rises by 24%. Another study by the same researchers, which followed subjects over more than 10 years, discovered that the worse a subject’s hearing was, the more likely that he or she would develop dementia. They also found a similar connection to Alzheimer’s Disease. Based on these results, moderate hearing loss puts you at 3X the risk of somebody without hearing loss. The risk increases to 4 times with extreme hearing loss.

The bottom line is, if you’re suffering from hearing loss, you should 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.
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