It’s All Connected: Surprising Ways Your Health Affects Your Hearing
In honor of World Health Day on April 7, 2019, let’s take a look at some surprising ways your physical health can impact your hearing health.
If you’ve recently been diagnosed with hearing loss, consider asking your physician or dentist about these other issues so you can keep on top of your overall health.
It’s been demonstrated many times over in the last few decades that heart health affects hearing health. But how? In your inner ear are tiny cells called hair cells. These convert sound into electrical signals that are sent to your brain to be interpreted. When you have cardiovascular problems, your heart can’t pump well enough for your hair cells to get sufficient blood, so they end up damaged or destroyed. As you lose hair cells, you lose hearing ability.
Hearing loss is roughly twice as prevalent in those with diabetes compared to those without diabetes. Why does it affect your hearing? Diabetes narrows the main artery running to your inner ear, compromising the blood supply to your hair cells. It can also damage the nerve that sends sound information from your inner ear to your brain.
This one’s a surprising twist: Your oral health affects your hearing health. It happens by way of your cardiovascular system. It’s been demonstrated that your oral health is connected to your heart health. Periodontal disease can result in bacteria and toxins entering the bloodstream, which increases the chance of cardiovascular issues. As already shown, cardiovascular problems affect the tiny hair cells in your inner ear, leading to hearing loss.
The common autoimmune disorder Graves’ disease has been linked to hearing loss. Graves’ disease causes hyperthyroidism, that is, an overactive thyroid gland. More study is needed to figure out exactly why hyperthyroidism affects your hearing, but it makes sense: The hormones it produces control how your body uses energy, so it affects your whole body — including your heart. And as we’ve seen, your heart health strongly affects your hearing health.