Hearing Loss and Cardiovascular Health: What the Heart and Ears Can Tell One Another
There are more connections between your hearing and your heart than just the first four letters of each word. More and more research is indicating that hearing health and cardiovascular heath (that of your heart, arteries and veins) are significantly intertwined.
That shouldn’t come as all that much of a surprise, since blood flow is vital for everything that happens inside the human body. One particularly intriguing thing, however, is that the inner ear is so sensitive, disrupted blood flow there may actually show up earlier than other symptoms of cardiovascular disease. That opens up the possibility of hearing-based screening for cardiovascular difficulties. Hearing loss and sudden hearing loss has been found with those who have suffered a heart attack.
That day isn’t here yet, but there are still plenty of reasons to keep an eye on both your hearing and your heart.
A group of researchers looked at some 60 years of research concerning hearing and cardiovascular health. They determined that the negative effects of poor cardiovascular health on the auditory system, and the potential of improved cardiovascular health to affect it positively, have been proved quite well over the years. Based on that alone, we can safely say that we should be looking seriously at the interaction of the cardiovascular and auditory systems.
And so, the connection is still being studied, but there is plenty of evidence you don’t need to be a scientist to see. For instance, regular exercise is well known to benefit the heart, but people who exercise regularly also have a lower incidence of hearing loss (one study showed that to be particularly true for women). Exercise is good for blood flow, strengthening the flow in the inner ear, as well. That seems like a connection worth taking seriously.
Smoking, we all know, is a huge cardiovascular threat, though people still persist in doing it. What you might not know is that smokers and those with exposure to secondhand smoke are also more likely to develop hearing loss. Smoking isn’t good for blood flow, restricting flow in the inner ear, as well.
Simply put—while science is working toward a definitive statement on the relationship between hearing and cardiovascular health, it’s probably a good idea for us all to approach our lifestyles as if they already had.
If you or a loved one is having cardiovascular difficulties, or if you’re a smoker, we urge you to please have your hearing tested. If your hearing is being compromised by poor blood flow in your inner ear, contemporary hearing technology can do amazing things in helping you get back the sounds your missing.
Wearing hearing aids is also known to go a long way toward relieving stress by making communication with others much easier; in fact, 80% of people with hearing aids report satisfactory changes in their lives. Perhaps reducing stress can also lead to a lessened desire to smoke, which might lead to healthier blood flow, which could stop any damage already done to your hearing from getting worse.
Those of us in the hearing health profession spend a lot of time counseling people on the importance of having their hearing tested. One of the reasons we’re so adamant about it is the connections researchers keep finding between hearing health and overall health.
We look forward to the day when a hearing test is as common as a blood test in annual physical exams, because science has told us that our ears can tell us a lot more than just what’s on the radio at any given moment.
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8 www.betterhearing.org/news/heart-disease-and-hearing-loss-linked-so-get-your-hearing-checked-world-heart-day-bhi-advises 9 Raymond HH. Hear J. 2014; 67(5): 22-26