Our body is a machine with many separate parts. Those parts work together to provide overall smooth performance. What we once may have thought of as unlikely connections in our body’s performance are now proving otherwise. An increasing amount of medical research is showing that our hearing health is linked to many other medical conditions.
Research conducted by Raymond Hull of Wichita State University showed convincing evidence that cardiovascular health and hearing health are directly linked. After reviewing decades of research, it was clear that declining cardiovascular health contributed to a decline in hearing health. The good news: there is a potential for improved hearing health as cardiovascular health improves.
Research at the National Institutes for Health found that regardless of age, diabetics were twice as likely to experience hearing loss when compared to healthy adults. Pre-diabetics studied were 30% more likely to have a hearing loss.
Researchers found that adults 35-60 with high cholesterol levels were more likely to have hearing loss than those with normal cholesterol levels. Dietary modifications and statin use indicated a decreased risk for hearing loss.
A study by the American Thoracic Society found that patients with sleep apnea were more likely to experience a hearing loss at both high and low frequencies. Further study is being done to determine if the loss is caused by restricted blood flow to the inner ear or trauma from the loudness of the snoring itself.
Dr. Frank Lin at Johns Hopkins Medical School has conducted extensive research into the connection between Dementia, Alzheimer’s and other cognitive issues. He found that hearing loss is independently associated with dementia. Further research needs to be done to find out whether preventing hearing loss may also help prevent cognitive decline or if hearing loss may prove to be a marker for early stage dementia.
A 2010 study showed that people who have moderate chronic kidney disease also have a higher prevalence of hearing loss than the general population. 54.4% of CKD sufferers showed a degree of hearing impairment as compared to 28.3% who showed hearing impairment but no kidney disorder. An author of the study claims the link may be due to structural similarities in the inner ear and kidney tissues.
Great Britain’s University of Manchester researchers concluded that smokers are 15.1% more likely to develop hearing loss than passive smokers or non-smokers while passive smokers had a 28% greater chance of developing hearing impairment than non-smokers. They weren’t sure if the microvascular changes brought on by cardiovascular disease associated with smoking, the tobacco smoke toxins or a combination of the two impact the hearing most.
If you are being treated for any of these conditions, follow your doctor’s advice for optimal health and hearing. Most importantly have your hearing checked regularly to help maintain your quality of life. When you manage your hearing health, you may also be slowing the onset of more serious related medical conditions. Call us to schedule a comprehensive hearing evaluation with Dr. Lorin Oden.