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

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

1. your Hearing is Affected by Diabetes

A widely-cited study that examined more than 5,000 adults found that people who had been diagnosed with diabetes were two times as likely to endure mild or worse hearing impairment when tested with low- or mid-frequency sounds. Impairment was also more likely with high-frequency sounds, but not as severe. This same research revealed that individuals 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 hearing loss and diabetes was consistent, even when controlling for other variables.

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 suffering from hearing impairment? Science is at a bit of a loss here. Diabetes is connected to a wide variety of health problems, and in particular, can cause physical damage to the kidneys, eyes, and extremities. It’s feasible that diabetes has a similar damaging affect on the blood vessels of the inner ear. But management of overall health may also be a relevant possibility. A study that looked at military veterans underscored the connection between hearing loss and diabetes, but specifically, it revealed that those with uncontrolled diabetes, essentially, people who are not managing their blood sugar or otherwise taking care of the disease, suffered worse outcomes. It’s essential to have a doctor test your blood sugar if you suspect you might have undiagnosed diabetes or are pre-diabetic.

2. Your Ears Can be Damaged by High Blood Pressure

Multiple studies have revealed that hearing loss is connected to high blood pressure, and some have found that high blood pressure may actually accelerate age-related hearing loss. The results are consistent even when controlling for variables such as noise exposure and whether you’re a smoker. The only variable that seems to make a difference is gender: Males with high blood pressure are at a higher danger of hearing loss.

Your ears aren’t part 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. Individuals with high blood pressure, in many cases, can hear their own blood pumping and this is the source of their tinnitus. That’s why this type of tinnitus is known as pulsatile tinnitus; you hear your pulse. The foremost theory why high blood pressure would speed up hearing loss is that high blood pressure can lead to physical harm to your ears. If your heart is pumping harder, there’s more force behind each beat. The smaller blood vessels inside of your ears can be damaged by this. High blood pressure is treatable using both lifestyle changes and medical interventions. But if you think you’re experiencing hearing impairment, even if you think you’re not old enough for age-related hearing loss, you need to schedule an appointment to see us.

3. Dementia And Hearing Loss

You might have a greater chance of dementia if you have hearing impairment. Research from Johns Hopkins University that observed almost 2,000 patients over the course of six years found that the danger of cognitive deterioration 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. These studies also demonstrated that Alzheimer’s had an equivalent link to hearing loss. Based on these findings, moderate hearing loss puts you at 3X the chance of someone without hearing loss. Extreme hearing loss puts you at almost 4x the risk.

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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