So often I get asked, “what can I do to protect my hearing?” People are often surprised to learn that to protect your hearing, it really is important to focus on your overall health. Many causes of hearing loss can be prevented, such as controlling diabetes and high blood pressure. This article is an attempt to help illustrate the connection between our health and our hearing.
A healthy diet, regular exercise, and maintaining a healthy weight are all very important to our overall health. Already known as unhealthy habits for many reasons, smoking and use of tobacco products are also strongly linked to increased hearing loss and tinnitus. For those diagnosed with diabetes, it is important to know that studies show that those with diabetes are more than twice as likely to have hearing loss. Scientists suggest that this is because high blood glucose levels associated with diabetes cause damage to small blood vessels of the inner ear, similar to how diabetes is known to damage the eyes. Studies also show that good management of your diabetes can positively impact the effect on hearing.
Studies have revealed that patients with hypertension (high blood pressure) have a greater increase in hearing loss compared to those without hypertension. If you have high blood pressure or diabetes, manage these conditions by following the recommendations of your healthcare provider. Research shows that those that manage their high blood pressure or diabetes are at less risk of hearing loss than those who have these conditions and do not manage their conditions as directed by their doctor.
Another great way to avoid hearing loss is to protect your hearing from loud noise. Noise is considered damaging when you must raise your voice to be heard over the sound source. There are wonderful hearing protection devices available at most major drugstores, as well as many implement dealerships and hardware stores. If you find that earplugs are difficult to wear, there are also wonderful custom hearing protection devices that can be purchased through an audiologist.
If you already have hearing loss, staying healthy and fit will prevent further decline in your hearing. Protecting your hearing from loud noise will keep it from worsening as well. Wearing hearing aids to treat your hearing loss will improve your overall health and quality of life. Studies show that untreated hearing loss leads to a higher risk of dementia and cognitive decline, falls, depression, and lower quality of life.
We all know that healthy living is an investment in not just our bodies but our bank accounts. Unhealthy living increases the risk of health conditions and hospitalizations as we age. However, it is important to remember that our hearing also impacts our aging process, and studies show that older adults with untreated hearing loss generate higher healthcare costs. In fact, adults with hearing loss experience a 46% increase in healthcare costs over 10 years compared to those that do not have hearing loss. This amounts to a difference of $22,434!
As you try to stick to your resolutions to get in shape and lead a healthier life this year, remember that your hearing should also be considered part of your overall health. Hopefully knowing this provides more motivation for you to stick to, or start, healthy habits in your life. If you are currently struggling with hearing loss, contact our office to learn more about how we can improve your ability to hear and understand speech. At Adaptive Audiology Solutions, we provide hearing healthcare that puts the patient first.
 Diabetes and Hearing Loss: A Message Often Unheard. The Hearing Review. Sept 15, 2010.
 Diabetes and Hearing Loss. Diabetes.org/diabetes-and-hearing-loss.
 Agarwal S, Mishra A, Jagade M, Kasbekan V, Nagle S. Effects of Hypertentions on Hearing. Indian J Otolaryngology Head Neck Surgery. 2013 Dec; 65 (Suppl 3): 614-618.