Hearing loss is the third most common medical condition in the US. As with other medical conditions, hearing loss occurs with comorbidities. A comorbidity is the simultaneous presence of two chronic diseases, or the presence of one or more additional disorders occurring simultaneously with a primary disorder.
Researchers have found links between hearing loss and diabetes, and hearing loss and dementia. A growing body of research revolves around circulatory health and hearing loss. For example, smoking cigarettes has been linked to hearing loss, as smoking increases your blood pressure. This could lead to the constriction of the small veins in your head and neck area, inevitably affecting your auditory system.
Today, we take a look at the link between high blood pressure (also known as hypertension) and hearing loss. From the Mayo Clinic, high blood pressure is defined as “a common condition in which the long-term force of the blood against your artery walls is high enough that it may eventually cause health problems, such as heart disease. Blood pressure is determined both by the amount of blood your heart pumps and the amount of resistance to blood flow in your arteries. The more blood your heart pumps and the narrower your arteries, the higher your blood pressure.”
The Center for Disease Control and Prevention estimates that nearly 70 million adults in the US experience high blood pressure, or hypertension. People with elevated blood pressure are categorized as prehypertension. A new study from Mumbai shows that “people suffering from high blood pressure could also suffer from hearing loss as a result of their medical condition. However, if high blood pressure is controlled with the right medication, an additional loss of hearing can be prevented.”
Link Between High Blood Pressure and Hearing Loss At JJ Hospital in Mumbai, Dr. Mohan Jagade and team conducted a study on a group of randomly selected patients between the ages of 45 and 64 years. In this group of 150 participants, Dr. Jagade found that “in subjects presenting elevated blood pressure, there was a significant increase in the presence of hearing loss.” From this study, “researchers surmised that hypertension is an accelerating factor in the degeneration of the auditory system and hearing as people age.”
It must also be noted that high blood pressure has been linked to other medical conditions, such as strokes and heart disease. A healthy circulatory system is crucial in the hearing process, as parts of your ear receive sound waves, translate them into neural signals, and process them in the auditory cortex of your brain. The inner ear environment is a sophisticated system of hair cells, fed by adequate blood flow. Limited blood flow in this process may have adverse effects on your hearing.
Raymond Hull, professor of communication sciences and disorders at Wichita State University has compiled 84 years of research that specifically concerns hearing and cardiovascular health. Hull and his co-researcher Stacy Kerschen, a doctorate in audiology, found overwhelming data indicating the link between auditory function and cardiovascular health. With the understanding that all parts of the body, especially the nervous system, which houses the auditory sensory system, require healthy blood flow to function property, this link appears a logical conclusion.
According to Hull, “The auditory function impacted by cardiovascular health is problematic because our entire central nervous system needs oxygen-rich nutrient supply. If it doesn’t get it due to cardiovascular health, then it can be affected.”
While recognizing there are many cause for hearing damage and hearing loss, Hull and Kerschen suggest that this process is further hindered by poor blood flow caused from cardiovascular problems. Cardiovascular conditions include coronary blockage, heart attacks, vascular hypertension (high blood pressure), and congenital heart problems. These conditions impact the flow of blood in our bodies and thus, inevitably affect the auditory process centralized in the head and neck area.
Ensuring Your Hearing Health
If you experience high blood pressure and feel that it is affecting your hearing, the first step is to take a hearing test. Hearing specialists recommend an annual hearing test for US adults age 50 and older. Just as you would schedule a regular physical checkup with your physician, contact us to schedule a hearing test at Arizona Balance and Hearing Aids. We provide comprehensive hearing tests, as well as state-of-the-art hearing aid solutions. Call us at: (602) 265-9000