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

Your hearing health is linked to many other health concerns, from depression to dementia. 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 looked at more than 5,000 adults revealed 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, put simply, 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 loss than those with regular blood sugar levels. And even when controlling for other variables, a more recent meta-study discovered a consistent link between diabetes and hearing loss.

So it’s fairly well recognized that diabetes is connected to an increased danger of hearing impairment. But why would diabetes put you at a higher risk of experiencing hearing loss? Science is at a bit of a loss here. Diabetes is linked to a wide range of health issues, and in particular, can result in 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 it might also be related to general health management. People who failed to treat or manage their diabetes had worse outcomes according to one study carried out on military veterans. It’s important to have a doctor check your blood sugar if you think you might have undiagnosed diabetes or are pre-diabetic.

2. High Blood Pressure Can Damage Your Ears

It is well known that high blood pressure has a connection to, if not accelerates, 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 appears to matter is gender: If you’re a man, the link between high blood pressure and hearing loss is even greater.

The ears and the circulatory system have a close relationship: Two of your body’s main arteries go directly past your ears besides the presence of tiny blood vessels inside your ears. People with high blood pressure, in many cases, 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 foremost theory why high blood pressure would accelerate hearing loss is that high blood pressure can lead to physical harm to your ears. If your heart is pumping harder, there’s more power behind every beat. That could potentially injure the smaller blood arteries inside your ears. High blood pressure is treatable using both lifestyle changes and medical interventions. But you should make an appointment for a hearing exam if you think you are developing any amount of hearing impairment.

3. Hearing Impairment And Dementia

You may have a greater risk of dementia if you have hearing impairment. Nearly 2000 individuals were studied over a six year period by Johns Hopkins University, and the study revealed that even with mild hearing loss (about 25 dB), the danger of dementia rises by 24%. Another study by the same researchers, which followed subjects over more than a decade, revealed 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 results, moderate hearing impairment puts you at 3X the chance of somebody without hearing loss. The danger increases to 4 times with severe hearing loss.

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

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