The common belief is that a majority of hearing problems is attributed to prolonged exposure to loud noises. However, latest research has identified that the culprit may be more diverse, ranging from contaminants, medicinal side effects and some other health conditions. It becomes important to identify these factors and be vigilant if you want to identify and address hearing problems in time. In particular, those suffering from certain health conditions need to be extra careful because they are at high risk. Let us learn about the health conditions that may result in hearing loss:
Hypertension: Hypertension or high blood pressure is often referred to as silent killer. The reason is that it may sometimes go undetected for years and cause extensive damage to the body, hearing loss is one of the side effects of chronic hypertension. Research has indicates that high blood pressure over a period of time can damage the small blood vessels in the inner ear. This can lead to age-related hearing loss in older people. Regular blood pressure checkup along with a healthy lifestyle can reduce the risk of hypertension and related hearing problems.
Diabetes: Another health issue that can directly impact the function of your ear is diabetes. Studies have proved that diabetics as twice as likely to develop hearing loss as compared to non-diabetics. Like high blood pressure, elevated blood sugar levels can also inflict serious damage to the tiny capillaries which supply blood to the inner ear. Regular monitoring of blood sugar is needed to identify and address diabetes on time. Medication and lifestyle changes are recommended to minimize the side effects of the condition.
Cardiovascular disease: Cardiovascular disease is fast-emerging as one of the most widely prevalent health conditions across the globe. It affects the heart and blood vessels and leads to buildup of plaque in the arteries. With this, there is a dramatic reduction of blood circulation in the body and the vessels in the ears are affected too. The cochlea is, in fact, highly sensitive to blood flow and this is the reason that it is considered susceptible to cardiovascular abnormalities.
Obesity: Surprising as it may sound, obesity is another condition that can result in loss of hearing. The risk is directly associated with factors such as Body Mass Index (BMI) and waist circumference. A study conducted at Brigham and Women’s Hospital in Boston has shown that individuals with a BMI between 30 and 34 are at a 17% higher risk as compared to the ones with a BMI less than 25. Women with BMI exceeding 40 are at 25% higher risk of higher loss. Similarly, the risk is higher for those with a waist circumference exceeding 35 inches. The best way to approach this condition is to focus on weight loss by eating healthy and having an active lifestyle.
High cholesterol levels: Next on the list of health conditions related with long-term damage to hearing are excessive cholesterol levels in the body. Cholesterol refers to the bad cholesterol (LDL-cholesterol) and triglycerides, which can damage the arteries and lead to stroke and cardiovascular disease. Several studies have been conducted to understand the impact of cholesterol on the hearing function and have shown a correlation between the two. If you have high levels of harmful cholesterol, then the risk is definitely higher for you. It is important to keep the cholesterol in check by taking the right treatment and adopting a healthy diet and exercise plan.
Blood-related problems: The function of the human ear is greatly affected by the blood flow in the capillaries of the inner ear. Any blood-related problems such as hypercoagulability and polycythemia can be a cause of damage to these capillaries and improper circulation in the inner ear. Sensorineural hearing loss is associated with Sickle Cell Disease. Those suffering from AIDS are also at an elevated risk. Timely detection and treatment of these conditions can go a long way in saving the ear’s functioning.
Chronic Kidney Disease: Also known as CKD, this disease results in gradual loss of renal function due to prolonged exposure to conditions such as hypertension and diabetes. As the kidneys lose their functioning, they are unable to eliminate the toxins from the body. This results in damage to the nerves, including those that are related to the ears. It is important to monitor and manage the kidney function so that you can save the hearing ability.
Infections: While chronic conditions may be responsible for this problem, it may sometimes also be caused by infections. For instance, a common flu could lead to hearing loss as the throat and lungs are connected with the ears. However, the loss may be temporary and things get better once the infection goes away. Another common infectious condition that is associated with loss of hearing is Lyme disease. Syphilis is a dangerous infectious disease that can even make you deaf if not resolved well in time.
Anemia: Iron-deficiency anemiais the reduction in iron levels which leads to depletion of red blood cells. It has been known to cause a range of side effects including fatigue and general weakness. A recent study has indicated that it may cause sensorineural conductive hearing loss. The study established a link between the hearing mechanism and iron-deficiency, even though the exact mechanism has not yet been identified. One explanation correlates the deficiency of this vital mineral with damage of tiny capillaries in the inner ear, which could hamper the transmission of sound nerve signals
Cancer: Another potentially dangerous health condition that is associated with hearing loss is cancer, particularly those of the ear or head. The disease can damage the organs directly. On the other hand, cancer therapies such as radiation and chemotherapy can also induce a range of hearing problems. For this reason, patients are subjected to evaluation of the hearing function before, during and after these therapies.
Cognitive Decline and Dementia: Hearing loss is not always caused by diseases of the body but can be attributed to neurological issues too. Cognitive disease such as dementia and Alzheimer’s disease are perhaps some of the most common reasons of loss of hearing ability. The gradual loss in ability to hear is cause by accelerated brain atrophy and shrinkage, which are the key characteristics of these conditions. These diseases are chiefly age-related and account for health issues in the elderly.
Depression: Chronic depression is linked with a variety of health problems and hearing loss is one of them. As the patient loses his interest in life, his daily activities get hampered and moderate loss of hearing is quite common. The condition may get worse with the passage of time.
Considering the extensive damage these health conditions can cause, it becomes essential to be aware of their implications. Timely detection and treatment can go a long way in preventing the related health issues including loss of hearing. Therefore, it is important that you give attention to any signals and seek medical help before things get worse and beyond
We Spread Awareness about hearing issues and also tell about the various measures that can be taken to resolve and handle them. Hearing loss is an illness, not a stigma and it should be addressed with proper care and precautions. You can see a specialist who can recommend the right therapies and hearing aids to help you curb further loss as well as restore your hearing abilities if possible.