What does your heart represent? Hearts mean many things to us: our souls, our emotions, our dreams, our desires. Of course, we also have a physical heart that sustains our bodies and circulates our blood.
The leading cause of death for both women and men in the U.S. is heart disease. Coronary heart disease tops the charts as the most common type, and 600,000 people die from heart disease annually in America.
These facts are all widely known, but did you know that your heart health can also directly affect your hearing health? We all know ways we can protect our hearts, and by doing that we are safeguarding our hearing as well!
Hearing Health and Heart Health
High blood pressure (hypertension, or blood pressure of 140/90 or higher) stretches out the arteries, which can cause vascular weakness and scarring. Blood clots and of arterial plaque build-up can result.
Any disruption in blood circulation can harm inner ear hair cells that support our brains in translating ambient noise into meaningful sound. Not only that, but the pharmaceutical drugs blood pressure can also cause hearing loss in some cases, and sometimes cause tinnitus.
Smoking damages every organ in the body, and 20% of deaths in America result from smoking. Smoking causes plaque to build up in the arteries, and the chemicals in cigarette smoke harm blood cells. Arterial plaque causes arteries to harden and narrow and causes stress to the heart.
Many of the chemicals in cigarettes are ototoxic, which means they can cause hearing damage. Vertigo, dizziness and tinnitus can result, as well temporary or permanent hearing loss.
Diabetes is a blood sugar disease that affects a large portion of the American population. Adult onset (type 2) diabetes is the most common. Hyperglycemia (high blood sugar) can influence blood circulation by straining the heart and other organs.
Diabetes restricts blood flow to the whole body, including the inner ear. Reduced blood circulation to the inner ear cells can cause them to die, and once they die, they don’t grow back. Since hearing damage is irreversible, and diabetics are at twice the risk of permanent hearing loss, it is just one more reason to take care of your health if your blood sugar levels are of concern.
Obesity is another factor that can influence hearing health as well as heart health. Obesity strains the heart and raises the chance of developing heart disease, which in turn boosts the risk of heart failure. Obesity also often causes high blood pressure and diabetes as well.
Hearing health is just one more reason to take care of your heart health. The best, easiest ways to prevent obesity, heart disease and other causes of hearing and heart problems is to stay active daily and eat a diet of real, whole foods.
Feel overwhelmed? Even small steps can get great results. Try switching out your morning cereal for eggs, and your afternoon doughnut for an apple and some nuts. Take a walk around the block once or twice a day. Park further away from the door when you go to the store to get in more steps, and take the stairs instead of the elevator. All of these little things can add up and make a big difference!
Alcoholism is another issue that we all know has harmful health effects. While drinking a glass of wine once a day may have health advantages, drinking more than that can increase your chances of high blood pressure and can weaken the heart.
Want to protect your heart and your hearing?
Here are a few tips:
- Cut out processed foods: shop the perimeter of the grocery store or better yet, walk around your local farmer’s market
- Exercise daily, even if it’s just a walk around the block and taking the stairs instead of the elevator
- Quit smoking if you do!
- Limit alcohol consumption
- Keep your regular health and hearing screenings
Make a commitment to improve your diet and be more active every day. Your heart—and your hearing—will thank you!
Remember that the first step to halting hearing loss and preventing further damage is to recognize your situation. Come in today for a hearing screening and formulate a strategy to train your brain to listen actively and effectively.
Diablo Hearing Services 2301 Camino Ramon, STE 106 San Ramon (925) 394-4646