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. Your hearing is linked to your health in the following ways.

1. your Hearing is Affected by Diabetes

A widely-cited study that observed over 5,000 adults determined that individuals who had been diagnosed with diabetes were twice as likely to suffer mild or worse hearing impairment when tested with low- or mid-frequency sounds. With high-frequency sounds, hearing impairment was not as severe but was also more likely. The researchers also discovered 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 percent more likely to have hearing impairment than those with regular blood sugar levels. A more recent meta-study found that the connection between diabetes and hearing loss was consistent, even when controlling for other variables.

So an increased risk of hearing impairment is solidly connected to diabetes. 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 range of health concerns, and particularly, can result in physical damage to the eyes, kidneys, and extremities. It’s possible that diabetes has a similar damaging affect on the blood vessels of the inner ear. But it may also be associated with general health management. People who failed to deal with or control their diabetes had worse consequences according to one study carried out on military veterans. If you are concerned that you may be pre-diabetic or have undiagnosed diabetes, it’s essential to speak to a doctor and get your blood sugar checked.

2. Your Ears Can be Harmed by High Blood Pressure

It is well established that high blood pressure plays a part in, if not accelerates, hearing loss. Even when adjusting for variables such as whether you smoke or your amount of noise exposure, the results are solid. Gender seems to be the only variable that matters: If you’re a man, the link between high blood pressure and hearing loss is even stronger.

Your ears aren’t part of your circulatory system, but they’re darn close to it: In addition to the numerous tiny blood vessels inside your ear, two of the body’s main arteries run right near it. This is one reason why those with high blood pressure frequently experience tinnitus, the pulsing they’re hearing is actually 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 harm to your ears, that’s the main hypothesis behind why it would speed up hearing loss. If your heart is pumping harder, there’s more power with every beat. That could potentially injure the smaller blood arteries inside your ears. Both medical treatment and lifestyle changes can be used to help regulate high blood pressure. But you should make an appointment for a hearing examination if you think you are developing any amount of hearing impairment.

3. Dementia And Hearing Impairment

Hearing loss may put you at a greater risk of dementia. Research from Johns Hopkins University that observed almost 2,000 people over the course of six years discovered 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 10 years, discovered that the worse a subject’s hearing was, the more likely that he or she would develop dementia. These studies also revealed that Alzheimer’s had a similar connection to hearing loss. Based on these findings, moderate hearing impairment puts you at 3X the risk of somebody without hearing loss. Extreme hearing loss puts you at nearly 4x the risk.

The truth is, if you’re experiencing hearing loss, you should get it tested and treated. It’s about your state of health.

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