For years, many people have thought of the eyes and ears and simply senses—organs that receive and process input from the outside world without being really linked to the rest of the body as a whole. However, in the last year or two, there have been many studies that have proven that hearing effects and is effected by the health of the body. Here are a few of the links that have been shown:
- Migraines May Increase Hearing Loss. A recent study by the American Journal of Otolaryngology found that people who suffer from Migraines have lower otoacoustic emission and auditory brainstem responses, which are early indicators of hearing loss.
- Ibuprofen and acetaminophen use (more than twice a week) is also linked to hearing loss. Regular users of this medication under the age of 50 were 61% more likely to experience hearing loss.
- Exercise not only helps your heart, it helps your hearing! The American Journal of Audiology recently released a study showing that people who exercise even once a week are 32% less likely to develop hearing loss.
- Hearing loss affects qualigy of life more than highblood pressure, stroke, and other conditions. In a new study by AARP Services and United Health Care, findings indicate that Americans ages 65 years and older said that hearing impairment affects their quality of life physically and mentally more than high blood pressure, stroke, osteoporosis, sciatica and cancer. The study was published in the journal Quality of Life Research.
- Untreated diabetes intensifies the risk of hearing loss. Through research presented in Miami Beach at the Triological Society’s Combined Sections Meeting, Dr. Derek J. Handzo found that diabetic women between the ages of 60 and 75 exhibited impaired hearing skills if their blood-glucose levels were not treated. Meanwhile, the women who did control their blood-glucose levels showed similar hearing levels to non-diabetic women at the same age.
- Hearing loss has been associated with increased risk of falls. A study published by the Archives of Internal Medicine found an interesting correlation between hearing loss and falls. The study found that for someone with just even a mild hearing loss compared to normal hearing, a person basically had about a three-fold increased chance of having falls over the past year.
- New Study Links Hearing Loss With Increase Risk of Dementia. A recent study by researchers at Johns Hopkins and the National Institute on Aging has found that adults with hearing loss are significantly more likely than adults with normal hearing to develop dementia. The study also concluded that the greater the hearing loss, the higher the risk.
There have also been interesting studies released on the correlations between hearing loss and heart disease, as well as with increased risk of hearing loss and smoking.
What does all of this mean?
The ear is does not function independently of the rest of the body. When hearing decreases, it could be an indicator that other things in the body are not right. Conversely, when problems occur in the body (heart, migraines, blood sugar, etc.), those problems, especially if left untreated, can affect our hearing.
What to do?
One of the most important things we can do for our own health is to make sure that our personal physicians have all of the information. When we complete a hearing exam at Timpanogos Hearing & Balance, we always ask our patients if they would like a report sent to their primary care physician. With that information, and the information they receive from all of your specialty doctors, they will have a much better idea of what is happening in your body as a whole, and thus are able to better diagnose and treat problems as they arise.