The link between cardiovascular disease and hearing loss
For far too long, many have believed that hearing loss is something that lives in isolation. It only happens because we’re old or because we’ve experienced a prolonged exposure to noise. So, while those things can contribute to hearing loss, they are far from the sole reason we might have hearing loss.
For many years now, experts in medical and hearing health are beginning to understand the relationship between hearing loss and other conditions, including cognitive impairment issues like dementia.
These concurrent health issues that a person experiences are called comorbidities, and they point to the interrelated nature of how our bodies function, and how when certain ailments occur, others are likely to follow.
Such is the case with hearing loss and cardiovascular disease. Cardiovascular disease — also commonly referred to as heart disease — is one of the leading causes of death for both men and women in the United States, and over 90 million Americans are reported to have some variation of the disease. Heart disease is often linked to chest pains, stroke, and now as experts have discovered, hearing loss.
How does heart disease cause hearing loss?
At this point, the exact reason why hearing loss is so commonly associated with cardiovascular disease is not yet known, but experts do have a pretty strong hunch.
When your heart pumps, your blood vessels circulate oxygen-rich blood throughout your body. Due to certain factors, like an unhealthy diet, lack of exercise, and others, your blood vessels can get built up with plaque (which is composed of fat and cholesterol).
This build up of plaque will cause the openings in your blood vessels to narrow, or sometimes become blocked altogether, severely or entirely limiting blood flow to different organs in the body.
Your ears and hearing are not immune to the effects of a lack of oxygen-rich blood flow. Your ears, like most parts of your body, contain many small arteries, and proper blood flow is necessary in order for them to function as they are supposed to.
Experts studying the relationship between cardiovascular disease and hearing loss strongly believe that when these small arteries are narrowed or blocked, that the auditory system is damaged and leads to permanent hearing loss.
How can people have healthier hearts and hearing?
Some of the biggest components in ensuring that you’re protecting your heart and hearing health relate to your diet and your level of activity.
Eating a diet rich in fresh vegetables and fruit, leafy greens, lean proteins, and foods rich in fiber are healthier options for anyone vs. highly processed foods that are rich in sugars and saturated fats.
Relatedly, getting daily physical activity is crucial to heart health. No one is suggesting that it is realistic for everyone to be marathon-ready, but making sure that we get up, get outside, and get our blood flowing is something most all of us can do and should do in an effort to keep our bodies active, our minds sharp, and our spirits calm.
Secondly, you need to get your hearing tested annually.
If you’re someone who is over the age of fifty, are concerned about cardiovascular disease, or come from a family with a history of heart disease or hearing loss, then getting your hearing tested on an annual basis (in addition to an annual physical) is an absolute must. Like heart disease, hearing loss can sneak up on us and getting your hearing checked (and establishing a baseline) is an important step in identifying if you need to take steps to treat it.
Your hearing care provider at Beltone Tristate will be able to use your hearing test results, coupled with any relevant medical insights, in order to track the state of your hearing. The moment we see any change in your hearing, we can conduct additional tests and provide early intervention treatment recommendations that will help you maintain good hearing health longer than you would if you were to leave your hearing loss untreated.
When it comes to your hearing — and your heart! — the last thing you should do is wait. The sooner that experts can understand your experience, conduct comprehensive tests, and recommend treatment, the better off you’ll be for years to come.
Don’t delay. Contact Beltone Tristate TODAY.