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

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

1. Diabetes Impacts Your Hearing

A widely-cited study that examined more than 5,000 adults determined that individuals who had been diagnosed with diabetes were two times as likely to endure mild or worse hearing loss 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 found that subjects who were pre-diabetic, put simply, 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 loss than those with regular blood sugar levels. And even when controlling for other variables, a more recent meta-study revealed a consistent connection between hearing loss and diabetes.

So an increased risk of hearing loss is solidly linked to diabetes. But why would diabetes put you at a higher risk of experiencing hearing impairment? When it comes to this, science doesn’t really have an explanation. Diabetes is connected to a wide variety of health issues, and particularly, can cause 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 management of your general health may also be a relevant possibility. People who failed to deal with or manage their diabetes had worse consequences according to one study carried out on military veterans. It’s important 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 established that high blood pressure plays a part in, if not accelerates, hearing loss. The results are consistent even when controlling for variables such as noise exposure and whether you smoke. The only variable that appears to make a difference is gender: Males with high blood pressure are at a greater risk of hearing loss.

The circulatory system and the ears have a direct relationship: Two of your body’s primary arteries go directly past your ears in addition to the presence of tiny blood vessels inside your ears. This is one reason why people who have high blood pressure often suffer from tinnitus, the pulsing they’re hearing is actually their own blood pumping. That’s why this type of tinnitus is known as pulsatile tinnitus; you hear your pulse. The leading theory why high blood pressure would accelerate hearing loss is that high blood pressure can lead to physical harm to your ears. There’s more power behind every heartbeat if the heart is pumping harder. That could potentially injure the smaller blood arteries inside your ears. Both medical intervention and lifestyle changes can be used to help manage high blood pressure. But you should schedule an appointment for a hearing exam if you think you are experiencing any degree of hearing loss.

3. Dementia And Hearing Loss

You might have a greater risk of dementia if you have hearing loss. Studies from Johns Hopkins University that observed almost 2,000 patients over the course of six years discovered that the danger of cognitive deterioration increased by 24% with just mild hearing loss (about 25 dB). And the worse the degree of hearing impairment, the higher the risk of dementia, according to another study conducted over a decade by the same researchers. This research also revealed that Alzheimer’s had a similar connection to hearing loss. Moderate hearing loss puts you at 3 times higher risk, according to these findings, than somebody with normal hearing. The risk rises to 4 times with severe hearing loss.

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

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