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

Your hearing health is connected to numerous other health concerns, from depression to dementia. Here are just a few of the ways your hearing is related to your health.

1. Diabetes Affects Your Hearing

When tested with low to mid-frequency tones, individuals with diabetes were twice as likely to experience mild to severe hearing loss according to a widely cited study that observed over 5,000 adults. With high-frequency sounds, hearing loss was not as severe but was also more likely. The researchers also found 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 discovered a consistent link between hearing loss and diabetes.

So it’s pretty established that diabetes is related to an increased danger of hearing impairment. But why would diabetes put you at an increased danger of experiencing hearing loss? Science is at somewhat of a loss here. Diabetes is linked to a wide range of health problems, and particularly, can lead to physical damage to the eyes, kidneys, and limbs. One theory is that the condition could impact the ears in a similar way, damaging blood vessels in the inner ear. But management of your general health might also be a relevant possibility. A study that observed military veterans highlighted the link between hearing impairment and diabetes, but in particular, it found that those with uncontrolled diabetes, essentially, individuals who are not monitoring their blood sugar or otherwise treating the disease, suffered worse consequences. It’s essential to have a doctor check 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 has a connection to, if not accelerates, hearing loss. Even when adjusting for variables like whether you smoke or your level of noise exposure, the results are consistent. The only variable that appears to make a difference is gender: Males who have high blood pressure are at a greater risk of hearing loss.

The ears and the circulatory system have a direct relationship: Besides the numerous tiny blood vessels in your ear, two of the body’s main arteries go right by it. 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 type of tinnitus, it’s called pulsatile tinnitus. The leading theory why high blood pressure would speed up hearing loss is that high blood pressure can cause physical damage to your ears. There’s more force with each heartbeat if the heart is pumping harder. That could potentially harm the smaller blood arteries in your ears. High blood pressure is treatable using both lifestyle changes and medical interventions. But if you think you’re developing 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 Loss And Dementia

You may have a greater risk of dementia if you have hearing impairment. Nearly 2000 people were analyzed over a six year period by Johns Hopkins University, and the research 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 discovered a similar link to Alzheimer’s Disease. Based on these findings, moderate hearing impairment puts you at 3X the risk of somebody without hearing loss. Severe hearing loss puts you at nearly 4x the risk.

It’s crucial, then, to get your hearing examined. Your health depends on it.

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