Research has shown that hearing loss can be linked with health problems as diverse as diabetes, Alzheimer’s disease and depression. If you suffer from one of these chronic health conditions, or know someone who does, it’s well worth keeping an eye out for any hearing issues that may emerge.
Good circulation is important for all organs and systems within the body, including your hearing. Without adequate blood flow, the delicate cells within the cochlea, as well as the rest of the inner ear, may not function correctly. Reduced circulation results in inadequate oxygen levels, which can cause damage and hearing loss. Studies have seen that the inner ear is one of the first parts of the body to be affected by heart disease, making hearing loss a sign of potential issues in some people.
Although the reason is yet to be 100% confirmed, research has found a link between diabetes and hearing loss. Those suffering from diabetes are generally more likely to experience hearing loss than those without the condition. It has been theorised that as unmonitored blood sugar levels can damage nerves throughout the body, the same happens to the nerves within the ear, or that because high blood sugar levels can damage small blood vessels, impacting systems such as vision and kidney function, the blood vessels within the ear can be damaged too.
Much like the link between diabetes and hearing loss, there also happens to be a relationship between kidney disease and hearing loss. The risk of hearing loss in kidney disease patients is thought to be higher than that of the general public due to the medications used to treat the illness and the accumulation of toxins that can damage nerves, including those within the ears. Similarities in the structure and function of the tissue found within the kidney and the inner ear means that the two are impacted in much the same way.
People with hearing loss are more likely to experience depression than the general public. Hearing loss makes it harder for people to engage in social situations, can take the enjoyment out of songs, TV shows and time with friends, and can result in high levels of anxiety around missing important information in conversations. All of these situations can lead to feelings of social isolation, stress and fatigue, which may result in depression in the long term.