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Health Issues That Affect Hearing

Minutes To Read: 4 minutes

You might be surprised at how your general health and well-being affect your hearing. We take a look at the common medical conditions implicated in hearing health:

  • Being Overweight
  • Having Diabetes
  • Being A Smoker

Being overweight

Increased high blood pressure often goes hand-in-hand with obesity. And that is linked to  hearing loss.

Researchers have found that healthy blood flow and oxygen are essential for the health of your ears.

One of the significant components of your hearing is hair cells. They are found in the cochlea, the complex system of semi-circular tubes filled with fluid and nerve endings. The hair cells detect sound, translate it into electrical signals for the nerve ending to take to the brain for interpretation.

High blood pressure due to obesity puts a strain on your vascular system, making it difficult to transport vital oxygen to the hair cells. Hearing loss occurs when the hair cells die off. These cells do not regenerate and the hearing loss is permanent.

Also, high blood pressure can result in tinnitus - the ringing in your ears.

Having Diabetes

Also related to obesity is diabetes, and it too can result in damage to the hair cells in the ear.

Scientists are not exactly sure why, but they are investigating the theory that high blood glucose levels damage the small blood vessels in the inner ear which feeds the hair cells.

The link between diabetes and hearing loss is incontrovertible, however. A National Institutes of Health 2008 study found that diabetic patients were twice as likely to have mild to moderate hearing loss than those without the disease. A metaanalysis of 13 studies done in the Journal of Clinical Endocrinology and Metabolism in 2012 reinforced the findings.

Being a Smoker

The harm to health that smoking does is well known, but did you know that smoking can also harm your hearing?

A study of Japanese workers found that smokers were 60 percent more likely to develop high-frequency hearing loss compared to non-smoker. Even non-smokers living with smokers were twice as likely to develop hearing loss as those who were not exposed.

Teenagers who smoke are two to three times as likely to develop hearing loss than their peers.

Nicotine and carbon monoxide lowers oxygen in the blood and constricts blood vessels particularly those tiny capillaries in the inner ear.

Smoking is strongly linked to tinnitus, dizziness and vertigo, as well.

While you may not be able to repair hearing damage, you can take steps to help protect your ears.

Further Reading

Value Hearing cares about you and your on-going hearing health. We have articles on other causes of hearing loss here.