Hearing loss is a serious condition not to be taken lightly. Roughly 37.5 million American adults have some degree of hearing loss according to the National Institute on Deafness and Other Communication Disorders. If hearing loss is left untouched, it can cause fatigue, depression, reduced alertness, social isolation, and an increased chance of falling. Numerous studies establish the fact that hearing loss co-exists with multiple physical health problems. The evidence is starting to demonstrate an actual link between hearing loss and certain chronic diseases. Heart disease, diabetes, chronic kidney disease, Alzheimer’s disease, and depression are all directly linked to hearing loss.
Studies show a direct association between hearing loss and heart disease. The problem involves blood circulation. Heart disease impacts the circulation of blood throughout the body including the ears. When denied sufficient blood flow, the ears respond with hearing loss. Taking care of your cardiac health with exercise, smoking cessation, and weight management will undoubtedly help your heart and your hearing.
The actual cause of hearing impairment in people with diabetes is unknown. A 2008 study concludes that people with type 2 diabetes are twice as likely to have hearing loss than people who do not have diabetes. The researchers believe that diabetes may cause hearing loss by damaging nerves and blood vessels. A separate study in 2013 provides similar findings to the 2008 study.
Toxins that form in the kidney due to kidney failure damage nerves including those found in the inner ear. This link, along with the fact that kidney disease and hearing loss share common risk factors indicate a connection between kidney disease and hearing loss. Research estimates that 30% of all people with chronic kidney disease also have some degree of hearing loss.
Research indicates that hearing loss increases the chances of Alzheimer’s disease in older adults. The exact cause for the connection is unclear. Investigators believe that a common pathology may be the underlying factor. Another theory suggests that the strain of trying to decode sounds over time may overwhelm the brain of the hearing impaired opening the door for Alzheimer’s disease.
A person with a hearing loss will habitually find communication difficult. Because of this hurdle, most of these people find it physically and mentally exhausting to work hard to communicate. The result is often a withdrawal from social activities to avoid possible embarrassment. This scenario usually concludes with the person experiencing depression as a direct result of social isolation.
The evidence strongly suggests that chronic disease and hearing loss share a link. Take care of your health and your hearing. Schedule a hearing evaluation with a hearing healthcare professional. A hearing exam will measure your hearing ability. The hearing healthcare professional can diagnose your problem and provide solutions such as hearing aids if indicated. Of course, exercise, weight management, and a healthy diet go a long way in the prevention of chronic disease.