The human body is a complex and interconnected system. One surprising area of insight into overall well-being is through our hearing health. Our sense of hearing is a very intricate and fragile process relying on the smallest bones in our body, microscopic hair cells sending electrical signals to our brain, and good circulation. Without these systems functioning in perfect unison, our hearing suffers and puts us at risk of many other mental and physical problems.
Poor hearing may also give us insight into other areas of our bodies that may be at risk, specifically related to heart and blood vessel health. One study published in the American Journal of Audiology found that individuals with cardiovascular disease (CVD) had a 54% higher risk of hearing loss compared to those without CVD.1 Another study published in the Journal of the American Geriatrics Society found that older adults with a history of heart disease had a higher prevalence of hearing loss.2
The connection between cardiovascular health and hearing health can be attributed to the blood vessels that supply the inner ear. Any damage to blood vessels within the ear can impact the delivery of oxygen and nutrients that enable us to hear. Without these vital provisions, the tiny hair cells responsible for hearing are at risk of being damaged or killed which can cause permanent hearing loss.
Smoking, obesity, and high blood pressure can impact our cardiovascular and hearing health. Smoking, for example, has been shown to reduce blood flow to the inner ear, while obesity and high blood pressure can damage the blood vessels that supply the inner ear.
Have you ever experience difficulty hearing, or are you just not sure how well you hear? Start by taking a simple hearing screening or contact a licensed hearing professional to get a more comprehensive hearing test. Hearing professionals can help diagnose your hearing loss and refer you to a specialist, if needed. Treating hearing loss can result in positive health outcomes, increase social engagement, improve communication, and lower the risk of depression, so don’t delay!