Are Hearing Loss and Heart Disease Linked?
Were you aware of the link between cardiovascular health and hearing? Having a healthy heart and good blood flow can do wonders for your hearing. Equally, heart problems and poor blood flow can cause varying degrees of hearing loss. How is this possible? We will have a look at how we hear and how heart disease and hearing loss are linked!
At first, the connection between heart disease and hearing loss doesn’t appear at all obvious. After all, aren’t our body’s cardiovascular and hearing system entirely separate? That’s where many people are mistaken! To understand the relationship between the two, let’s take a look at how our hearing works!
Hearing Loss and Heart Disease: The Devil is in the Detail
The human ear is made up of three main parts, including the outer ear, the middle ear, and the inner ear. Here’s what you should know about each:
The outer ear
The visible part of the ear, this includes the earlobe, the pinna and the ear canal. These parts are shaped to collect sound waves and channel them towards your ear.
The middle ear
This includes the eardrum, Eustachian tube which links the middle ear and back of the nose and throat, as well as three small bones called the ossicles (malleus, incus, and stapes).
The inner ear
This includes the hearing organ (cochlea) and the balance organ. The cochlea has thousands of tiny hair cells important to hearing.
How does our hearing work?
In healthy hearing, these parts work together for us to hear. Sound waves that travel through the air are collected by the pinna and sent to the eardrum via the ear canal. The eardrum begins to vibrate causing the ossicles to move. The ossicles push on the cochlea and cause fluid in the cochlea (inner ear) to move. This bends the hair cells in the cochlea and electrical impulses are created. The hearing nerve carries these impulses to the brain and sound is perceived. An issue in either of these parts may result in hearing loss.
How Are Heart Disease and Hearing Loss Related?
In the inner ear is the hearing organ, the cochlea. The cochlea is lined with thousands of tiny hair cells responsible for converting sound waves into electrical signals sent to the brain via the hearing nerve for sound to be ‘heard’. The major and essential systems in the body rely on the heart’s blood supply, and the ear is no different. The normal functioning of the inner ear depends on good blood flow, and any changes to this flow can disrupt the inner ear and affect hearing.
Heart disease affects the flow of blood to the rest of the body. For example, if the arteries become clogged, the blood flow is affected. This means that there is not an adequate amount of blood flow or oxygen to the hair cells in the inner ear. The hair cells can become damaged or die off. When this happens, permanent hearing loss can occur as these hair cells do not grow back.
The hearing nerve, which carries the messages to the brain, may also be affected. Blood carries oxygen, and if there is a reduced flow of blood, there is less oxygen reaching these important structures. This can damage the nerves. On the other hand, a healthy heart and good blood flow impacts your hearing in a positive way.
Take Action Today And Protect Your Hearing
As mentioned before, there are a number of preventable risk factors for heart disease including smoking, high levels of stress, obesity, high blood pressure and cholesterol, unhealthy diet, and diabetes. You can limit your risk of developing heart disease by controlling the preventable risk factors through healthy lifestyle choices. Doing this will ensure a healthy heart and good blood flow, which will also result in positive effects on your hearing.
Some healthy lifestyle changes or options include:
- Reducing alcohol intake.
- Quitting smoking.
- Eating a healthy and balanced diet.
- Engaging in exercise and physical activity.
- Reducing stress levels and taking care of your mental health.
- Losing a healthy amount of weight.
- Sleeping well.
- Keeping an eye on blood pressure and cholesterol.
- Monitoring blood sugar levels.
Wrapping it up
In this modern-day and age, heart disease is relatively common. It can affect your hearing by limiting the blood flow and oxygen to the tiny hair cells in the cochlea. When this happens, a permanent hearing loss can occur, and you may require hearing aids as a result. There are, however, many lifestyle choices you can make to reduce the risk of getting heart disease, including not smoking, eating healthy, and being active.
If you have heart disease or are at risk of heart disease, contact your trusted local audiologist today for a hearing test. Give your team at Attune Hearing a call on 1300 736 702 to book your assessment or make an appointment online!