It’s February, the month of love and Valentine’s day. There are hearts everywhere we look! What do you think of when you think of your heart? Emotions, the soul, your dreams and desires? We also think of the physical organ that sustains our lives and pumps life-giving blood to our bodies.
February is also the month for heart disease awareness. The Center of Disease Control (CDC) reported that in the U.S. 600,000 people die from heart disease every year. Heart disease is the leading cause of death for both men and women, with coronary heart disease topping the charts as the most common type.
Did you know that heart health and hearing health are related? So when protect your heart, you are also preserving your hearing!
Issues that Can Influence both Heart and Hearing Health
Hypertension (high blood pressure–140/90 or higher), can cause vascular scarring and weakness by stretching your arteries. Build-up of plaque and blood clots that clogs arteries may follow.
Any interruption in blood flow can damage the inner ear hair cells that help our brains to translate sounds into meaning. Medications for blood pressure can also cause hearing damage–some people develop ringing in the ears (tinnitus).
Smoking is very destructive: it damages every organ in the body, and in the US, one in five deaths results from it. The chemicals in cigarette smoke harm blood cells. Then plaque develops in arteries, which causes them to harden and narrow, in turn causing stress to your heart.
The chemicals present in cigarettes also affect your hearing. The neurotransmitters in the auditory nerve could blocked, which confuses your brain when it hears sound. Tinnitus can result, as well as vertigo and dizziness.
Diabetes affects millions of people in the United States today and type 2 (adult onset) diabetes is the most common. High blood sugar, or hyperglycemia, can affect blood flow by overtaxing the heart and other organs.
The decreased blood flow caused by diabetes can also restrict the blood flow to the inner ear. Once the tiny hair cells in the inner ear die, they can’t grow back, so hearing damage is not reversible. Hearing damage is twice as common in people with diabetes than those without it.
Obesity is a huge problem in modern America. Being overweight stresses your heart and increases the chances you will develop heart disease, which increases the risk of heart failure. High blood pressure and diabetes often result from obesity as well.
A sedentary lifestyle is the norm in America today: we sit at desks all day long and then go home and watch TV to relax before going to bed.
The best way to combat heart disease, obesity, many of the other causes of hearing and heart damage is to be active every day and eat real, whole foods on a regular basis.
Even little improvements can make a big impact: switch out your morning cereal for eggs, and your afternoon cookies for an orange, almonds or a cheese stick. Use your lunch break to take a walk. When you go shopping, park at the far end of the parking lot and take the stairs instead of the elevator. Little things can add up!
Alcoholism is another problem that has detrimental health implications. Drinking a glass of wine with dinner can have health benefits, but excessive alcohol intake increases risk of high blood pressure, and weakens the heart.
The free radicals produced by drinking heavily can also impact the inner ear, and the brain can even shrink as a result. Tinnitus, balance issues like vertigo, and noise-induced hearing loss can result.
If you want to protect your heart and your hearing, remember these tips:
- l Shop the perimeter of the grocery store: cut out processed foods
- l Maintain a healthy weight
- l Be active every day
- l Don’t smoke
- l Drink alcohol sparingly
- l Stay current with your regular hearing screenings
Love your heart AND your hearing in February and all year long!
Make a commitment today to improve your overall health by cleaning up your diet and being more active every day.
Here at California Hearing Center we are committed to your hearing health. Call us today to set up an appointment for a hearing screening.