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

Age-related hearing loss usually begins to manifest in your 40s, 50s, or 60s. Your symptoms could progress slowly and be largely invisible, but this kind of hearing loss is permanent. Years of noise damage is typically the cause. So how is hearing loss a result of hypertension? The blood vessels in your ears and your blood vessels in general can be damaged by high blood pressure.

What is blood pressure (and why does it matter?)

Blood pressure is a measure of how rapidly blood moves through your circulatory system. When the blood flows quicker than normal it means you have high blood pressure. Damage to your blood vessels can occur over time because of this. These blood vessels that have been harmed lose their elasticity and often become blocked. A blockage can result in a stroke or other cardiovascular problems. That’s one reason why healthcare professionals frequently pay close attention to your blood pressure.

So, what is considered to be high blood pressure?

The basic ratings for blood pressure include the following:

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

A hypertensive crisis occurs when your blood pressure goes over 180/120. Immediate treatment is needed when this occurs.

How is hearing loss caused by hypertension?

The blood vessels in your ear and your whole body can be damaged by hypertension. Normally, the nerves in your ear will also be compromised along with these blood vessels. Likewise, high blood pressure can negatively affect the stereocilia in your ear (the little hairs responsible for sensing vibrations). These stereocilia are not able to self-regeneration, so any damage they incur is permanent.

So regardless of the specific cause, irreversible hearing loss can be the result of any damage. Research indicates that those with healthy blood pressure readings tend to have a much lower prevalence of hearing loss. Those who reported higher blood pressure were also more likely to have more extreme hearing loss. The findings of the study make clear that keeping your blood pressure under control can help you avoid the effects of hearing loss.

What does high blood pressure make your ears feel like?

Normally, the symptoms of high blood pressure are barely detectable. So-called “hot ears” are not a sign of high blood pressure. “Hot ears” is an affliction where your ears feel hot and become red. Typically, it’s a sign of changes in blood flow related to emotions, hormones, and other non-blood pressure-associated issues.

In some cases, high blood pressure can worsen tinnitus symptoms. But if your tinnitus was a result of high blood pressure, how would you know? The only way to tell for sure is to speak with your doctor. In general, however, tinnitus is not a sign of high blood pressure. There’s a reason that high blood pressure is frequently called “the silent killer”.

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

How is high blood pressure treated?

Normally, there are a number of factors that contribute to high blood pressure. As a result, you may have to take several different steps and use a variety of approaches to effectively lower your blood pressure. Your primary care physician should be where you address your high blood pressure. That management might look like the following:

  • Take medication as prescribed: In some cases, no amount of diet and exercise can counter or successfully manage high blood pressure. In those instances, (and even in cases where lifestyle changes have worked), medication may be necessary to help you control your hypertension.
  • Diet changes: Your blood pressure can be lowered by eating a Mediterranean diet. Basically, stay away from foods like red meats and eat more vegetables and fruits.
  • Avoid sodium: Pay attention to the amount of salt in your food, particularly processed foods. Steer clear of processed food when possible and find lower sodium alternatives if you can.
  • Get more exercise: Getting regular exercise (or simply getting your body moving on a regular basis) can help decrease your overall blood pressure.

You and your primary care provider will formulate a treatment plan to deal with your blood pressure. Can hearing loss from high blood pressure be reversed? In some cases the answer is yes and in others not so much. There is some evidence to suggest that lowering your blood pressure can help revive your hearing, at least in part. But at least some of the damage will likely be permanent.

Your hearing will have a better chance of recovering if you address your blood pressure promptly.

Safeguarding your hearing

You can safeguard your hearing in other ways besides lowering your blood pressure. This could include:

  • Avoiding loud venues and events: Loud noises should be avoided because they can cause damage. If you absolutely need to be in a setting with overly loud noise, at least limit your exposure time.
  • Wear hearing protection: Earmuff, earplugs, and even noise canceling headphones can help you protect your hearing.
  • Talk to us: Getting your hearing tested regularly can help you maintain your hearing and detect any hearing loss early.

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

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The site information is for educational and informational purposes only and does not constitute medical advice. To receive personalized advice or treatment, schedule an appointment.