Man Hearing Loss Or Hard Of Hearing And Cupping His Hand Behind

A Link between Hearing Loss & Cardiovascular Disease

Your Hearing Health is Fundamental to Your Overall Health 

It is common knowledge that a healthy diet & regular exercise are essential to your health. Though everyone knows this, maybe people fail to understand how essential health is to contentment. It is only common sense that basically everything eventually depends on feeling good within your body.

And it is common knowledge that everyone feels better after a good night’s sleep. Everyone knows that they feel sharper & more alert & just simply better able to function when they are well rested. And though everyone may know this, maybe people fail to understand the cumulative impact that dedicating yourself to a healthy sleep schedule will have on your overall sense of well-being.

But perhaps less well-known, though it makes perfect sense, the other fundamental to our overall health is our sense of hearing. Not only do we depend on our hearing for our immediate physical safety to orient ourselves in public spaces. Our physical safety also depends on our hearing in private spaces too, because our hearing is so closely linked to our sense of balance.

But beyond our physical safety, our emotional, psychological & even cognitive health all depend on our hearing. Hearing loss comes on incredibly gradually for a long list of reasons, the most common of which are just as well-known as the healthy habits listed above. Long exposure to uncomfortably loud sounds will damage your hearing over time. The problem lies in how we normalize sounds that are potentially dangerous & consequently form dangerous habits that we do not realize are dangerous. And because hearing loss comes on so gradually, many people fail to even recognize that they are suffering from it. There are all kinds of motives to do this both consciously & unconsciously. But perhaps if people fully comprehended the actual impact that their hearing has on their overall health it might become more common to prioritize it.

Hearing loss comes on so gradually that by the time we consider people aged 75 & older, more than half have some detectable degree of disabling hearing loss. Sadly, less than 20% of everyone with hearing loss seeks proper treatment. But consider the consequences. Hearing loss corresponds directly with increased morbidity and mortality, & a diminished quality of life. Advancements in technology are altering population demographics, leading specialists to expect the population over the age of 80 to double within the next 40 years. This means that the awareness & action taking these links seriously is more important than ever before.

Your Heart & Your Hearing: A Two-Way Street 

Cardiovascular disease refers to a number of conditions involving the heart & circulatory system & when considered as a singular group it is the leading cause of death in the United States since 1950. Due to the nature of how our circulatory systems work, delivering blood & oxygen to all our organs, cardiovascular disease affects every aspect of our health. But it is less well-known how it relates to hearing health.

Treatment of an underlying cardiovascular disease can prevent or slow down the progression of hearing loss. Also, conversely, hearing loss might be a symptom of an underlying cardiovascular disease. Studies have proven over & over that the presence of a cardiovascular comorbidity is associated with the acceleration of hearing loss in older patients. Such comorbidities include coronary artery disease (CAD), hypertension, diabetes, a cerebrovascular accident, and smoking.

To understand the reciprocal nature between hearing & cardiovascular disease, let’s consider diabetes as an example. Diabetes changes the viscosity of blood, thickening it. Over time, this thickened blood damages one’s blood vessels, especially the tiniest capillaries that many organs depend on to function properly. Take the cochlea for example. We hear because when sound waves enter our inner ears, they trigger microscopic hairs & these hairs vibrate against our eardrums. Our eardrums send these vibrations to our brains to decode. But when blood flow to these tiny hairs is compromised for any reason, they fail to operate properly & may even die off. Damage to these hairs is permanent & irreversible.

In a case such as this, the patient may first be aware that her hearing is fading, but not know that it is due to an underlying cardiovascular condition until seeking appropriate care from a cardiologist or at least their general practitioner. Alternately, because hearing loss comes on so gradually, someone may know that they are diabetic, but fail to recognize the encroaching hearing loss, opening them up to the spiraling consequences of untreated hearing loss. This is why it is so important to maintain regular attention to both of these specific aspects of your health if you are aware of any problem with either one. Take action today.