Hypertension and Hearing Loss

Doctor measures the pressure of the patient during a medical examination and consultation in the hospital

Were you aware that your risk of developing age-related hearing loss can be increased if you have high blood pressure?

From about 40 years old and up, you may begin to notice that your hearing is beginning to fail. You probably won’t even detect your developing hearing loss even though it’s an irreversible condition. Typically, it’s the outcome of many years of noise-related damage. So how is hearing loss a result of hypertension? The answer is that high blood pressure can cause extensive damage to your blood vessels, including those in your ears.

Blood pressure and why it’s so significant

Blood pressure is a measure of how rapidly blood moves through your circulatory system. High blood pressure means that this blood flows more rapidly than normal. Damage to your blood vessels can occur over time as a result. These damaged vessels grow less flexible and more prone to blockages. Cardiovascular problems, such as a stroke, can be the result of these blockages. Healthcare professionals have a tendency to pay very close attention to a patient’s blood pressure for this reason.

What constitutes high blood pressure?

Here are the general ratings for high blood pressure:

  • Normal: 120/8o
  • Stage 1 Hypertension: 130-139/80-89
  • Stage 2 Hypertension: 140 or Higher/90 or higher

A hypertensive emergency occurs when your blood pressure goes over 180/120. This type of event should be treated immediately.

How is hearing loss caused by hypertension?

The blood vessels inside of your ear and your whole body can be damaged by hypertension. As these blood vessels get damaged, it’s likely that the nerves in your ear also endure lasting damage. Also, high blood pressure can negatively affect the stereocilia in your ear (the little hairs responsible for picking up vibrations). These stereocilia are not able to self-regeneration, so any damage they sustain is permanent.

This means that damage to the ears, regardless of the cause, can result in permanent hearing loss. Research indicates that those with normal blood pressure readings tend to have a far lower prevalence of hearing loss. Those who reported higher blood pressure were also more likely to have more extreme hearing loss. The effects of hearing loss, in other words, can be decreased by keeping blood pressure under control.

What does high blood pressure make your ears feel like?

In most cases, high blood pressure is a symptomless condition. High blood pressure isn’t the cause of “hot ears”. “Hot ears” is a condition where your ears feel hot and get red. Normally, it’s an indication of changes in blood flow related to emotions, hormones, and other non-blood pressure-associated problems.

In some instances, high blood pressure can exacerbate tinnitus symptoms. But how do you know if tinnitus is from high blood pressure? The only way to know for sure is to talk to your doctor. Tinnitus generally isn’t a symptom of high blood pressure. There’s a reason that high blood pressure is frequently referred to as “the silent killer”.

Usually, it isn’t until you have your vitals taken at your annual exam that high blood pressure is discovered. It’s a good reason to be certain you don’t miss those regular appointments.

How is high blood pressure treated?

High blood pressure is usually caused by a confluence of numerous different factors. That’s why lowering blood pressure might call for a variety of approaches. Your primary care doctor should be where you address your high blood pressure. That management may look like the following:

  • Get more exercise: Your blood pressure can be kept under control by exercising regularly.
  • Diet changes: Eating a Mediterranean diet can help you lower blood pressure. Eat more fruits and veggies and avoid things like red meat.
  • Avoid sodium: Keep your eye on the amount of salt in your food, particularly processed foods. Avoid processed food when possible and find lower salt alternatives if possible.
  • Take medication as prescribed: Sometimes, no amount of diet and exercise can prevent or effectively manage high blood pressure. In those cases, (and even in situations where lifestyle changes have helped), medication might be necessary to help you control your hypertension.

You and your primary care provider will develop a treatment plan to deal with your blood pressure. Can hearing loss from high blood pressure be reversed? The answer depends. There is some evidence to suggest that lowering your blood pressure can help restore your hearing, at least partially. But at least some of the damage will likely be permanent.

The faster your high blood pressure is reversed, the more likely it will be that your hearing will return.

How to safeguard your hearing

You can safeguard your hearing in other ways besides lowering your blood pressure. Here are several ways:

  • Wear hearing protection: You can protect your hearing by utilizing earplugs, earmuffs, or noise canceling headphones.
  • Avoiding loud venues and events: Loud sounds should be avoided because they can cause damage. If these settings are not completely avoidable, limit your time in noisy environments.
  • Talk to us: Any existing hearing loss can be preserved and early detection will be possible by getting routine hearing screenings.

If you have high blood pressure and are showing symptoms of hearing loss, be certain to book an appointment with us so we can help you address your hearing loss and protect your hearing health.

The content of this blog is the intellectual property of MedPB.com and is reprinted here with permission.

The site information is for educational and informational purposes only and does not constitute medical advice. To receive a personalized free hearing test and hearing loss consultation, call today to set up an appointment.

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