Since February is American Heart Month, we decided to examine some ways to keep your ears and your heart healthy. Did you know one of the early warning indicators of heart disease is hearing loss? Studies have shown adults with cardiovascular issues are 54 percent likelier to experience hearing loss than their unaffected peers. So, getting your hearing checked isn’t just a good idea to protect and improve your hearing, it might just save your life.
In addition to a hearing evaluation, we suggest the following tips for maintaining your heart and hearing health:
Schedule a checkup. If you’ve noticed your hearing isn’t what it used to be, don’t ignore it―tell your doctor during your next appointment and ask for advice on what to do next. This is especially important if you know you’re already at higher risk of cardiovascular disease, due to genetics, lifestyle, or other contributing factors.
Eat less, exercise more. Obesity puts a significant burden on your heart and has been linked to an increased likelihood of hearing difficulties. It also puts you at greater risk of diabetes, which is a known co-morbidity of hearing loss. Meanwhile, regular physical activity, even of the modest sort like walking more often during the week, reduces the risk by approximately 16 percent.
Limit alcohol consumption. Moderate-to-heavy drinking on a regular basis has been linked to damage in the part of the brain that governs auditory processing and the attendant auditory nerves. Heavy, habitual drinkers also risk losing hair cells that conduct sound to the brain due to toxic levels of alcohol in their bloodstream.
Stop smoking. Smokers inhale a lot more than tobacco ― formaldehyde, benzene, arsenic, ammonia and many more toxic chemicals are included in every puff. This dangerous cocktail can damage the conductive and sensorineural functions of your ears, while nicotine hurts your brain’s ability to process sound. And of course the risks smoking poses to your heart are well-documented.
Avoid excessive noise. Obviously, exposure to loud noises, especially on a regular basis, is bad for your ears, but did you know it’s also bad for your heart? In 2015, a medical study reported exposure to loud noise on the job or during leisure time may increase the likelihood of heart disease, as people with high-frequency hearing loss in both ears were about two times as likely to have coronary heart disease, and those 50 and younger face a four times greater risk of heart disease. Yet another reason to always wear hearing protection whenever significant noise exposure can’t be avoided!