Why Your Doctor Should Be Asking About Your Hearing

Updated: Mar 18

FALLS:

Falls are the leading cause of fatal and non-fatal injuries among the elderly. A study at Johns Hopkins found that people with mild hearing loss were nearly three times more likely to have a history of falling. As the hearing loss increased in severity, so did the fall report. This finding still held true, even when researchers corrected for other factors linked with falling, including age, sex, race, cardiovascular disease, and vestibular function.


MENTAL HEALTH:

People with hearing loss often report the most difficulty hearing in background noise. When people are exhausting their cognitive energy just to hear they tend to withdraw from social interactions as they are exhausting. Social isolation and increased levels of stress are common hearing loss side-effects. Hearing loss causes us to lose our connection to family, friends, One in five hearing-impaired adults report symptoms of clinical depression. Studies show that as hearing loss increases, so does the incidence of depression. The trend appears to be more obvious for women, and the exceptions are people who reported themselves to be “deaf.”


COGNITION:

A 12 year Johns Hopkins study completed in 2013 suggests that the risk of dementia increased linearly with the severity of hearing loss. Those with just a mild loss were twice as likely to develop dementia as those with normal hearing, while moderate were three times as likely, and severe was five times as likely. The study accounted for other variables such as age, sex, race, and gender. This study and others conclude that hearing loss is independently associated with dementia.


CARDIOVASCUAL DISEASE:

Researches reported that patients with low-frequency hearing loss should be considered “at-risk” for cardiovascular conditions. One chart in the study suggests that about 85% of diagnosed strokes were associated with individuals who had flat or low-frequency sloping losses. The results suggest that there may be a common vascular pathology within the cerebrovascular system or vascular compromise affecting both hearing and cardiovascular structures.


BLOOD PRESSURE:

There is a significant association between hypertension and an increase in the hearing threshold. Studies show that people who have an increase in blood pressure have a higher rate of hearing loss. If the blood pressure stays high for a long period of time, it will permanently damage the hearing organs. Researchers found that a sudden change in hearing is a significant warning flag that should not be ignored. A study showed that a person with sudden severe hearing loss was 150 percent more likely to experience a stroke within two years of the change in hearing.


DIABETES:

A recent study found that hearing loss is twice as common in people with diabetes as it is in those who don't have the disease. The rate of hearing loss is 30 percent higher in those who have prediabetes than in those with normal blood glucose.


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