Updated: Nov 23, 2020
By Dr. Angela Seuser, Professional Hearing Services
Hearing health is often dismissed because other areas of our general health seem to take precedence. This important area of comprehensive health should not be ignored as recent studies have shown that your overall health and your hearing are connected in more ways than one.
Research has shown that poor cardiovascular health causes blood vessel trauma and poor blood flow to the inner ear. Therefore, hearing loss can be an early warning sign of cardiovascular disease. A study in the American Journal of Medicine found that a higher level of physical activity is associated with the lower risk of hearing loss in women. A different study showed that more than one third of adults who wore hearing aids experienced mental health improvements. Research at Johns Hopkins University revealed that people with a hearing loss showed a 30 to 40 percent accelerated rate of cognitive decline over a 6 year period, compared with those with normal hearing. More importantly, the more severe hearing loss, the greater the possibility of developing a decline in cognitive function. This connection shows that the effort it takes with a hearing loss to hear and comprehend sound creates a strain that interferes with normal cognition. These findings proved that the link between hearing and cognitive ability are related in many ways.
In addition to cardiovascular and cognitive health relationships to hearing loss, studies have shown that adults with Type 2 diabetes are twice as likely to have some form of hearing loss. According to a study found in the Journal of Clinical Endocrinology and Metabolism in 2013, those under the age of 60 had 2.61 times the risk of acquiring a hearing loss while those over the age of 60 had 1.58 times the risk. Diabetes can lead to sensorineural hearing loss by damaging the nerves and blood vessels of the inner ear. This can be caused by thickened capillaries of the inner ear as well as degeneration of the nerve cells in the inner ear and hardening of the auditory artery. The proper function of this anatomy is crucial for relaying sound and balance data to the brain.
This research proves why we should give proper attention to our hearing health. Hearing naturally declines like any other part of our anatomy and is related to other health conditions. Monitoring your hearing every year or two with a hearing healthcare provider is a great addition to your comprehensive healthcare routine.