In the hearing care profession, we find that this is a great time of year to raise awareness about the connections between overall health and hearing health. People are often surprised to find out how just how linked hearing is to the rest of the body.
Let’s take a look at some of those connections throughout the body:
Study after study has revealed that there is a very strong relationship between the ability to hear and the state of our cardiovascular system. Deep in your inner ear, there are tiny hair cells that convert the information collected by your ears into electrical signals for the brain. Just like the rest of your body, those tiny hair cells rely on a proper supply of blood. When your cardiovascular system is compromised and blood has a hard time making its way to your hair cells, they can be damaged and even killed, lessening your ability to hear.
Blood flow can be interfered with by this condition, too. Diabetes can constrict the artery that leads to your inner ear, reducing the blood supply your hair cells rely on. That restricted blood flow can also harm the nerve over which your hair cells send information to your brain. In fact, hearing loss is about twice as likely in people with diabetes.
Poor oral health can have an adverse effect on our hearing. Once again, it has to do with a connection to the cardiovascular system. Gum disease can put bacteria and toxins into your bloodstream, which can cause difficulties in your cardiovascular system. As mentioned above, anything that stresses your cardiovascular system runs the risk of decreasing the blood supply required by the hair cells of your inner ear.
There is a common autoimmune problem, Graves’ Disease, which causes the thyroid gland to become overactive. Graves’ Disease has also been linked to hearing loss, although the specific connection between the two has yet to be pinpointed. The connection is likely because of the hormones produced by the thyroid gland helps to regulate the way your body makes use of energy. Everything in your body uses energy, including your heart. As has been pointed out several times in this article, the way in which your heart pumps blood is essential to supporting the mechanisms that allow you to hear.
Those are just a few of the most common connections between hearing and your overall health. There are more, so if you find yourself diagnosed with hearing loss, talk to your physician and your dentist about it. It’s one more piece of your complete health picture that he or she needs to know about. Contact us today to schedule your hearing assessment.