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Hypertension and Hearing Loss

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Hypertension and Hearing Loss

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Many studies link untreated hypertension with hearing loss.

Medically reviewed by

Dr. K. Shobana

Published At September 14, 2015
Reviewed AtJanuary 3, 2024

Introduction

Communication is an important aspect of human life, and the sense of hearing is very important for any kind of communication. Hypertension is an independent risk factor for hearing loss as it alters the microcirculation in the inner ear, thus causing degeneration of the inner ear.

What Are the Warning Signs of Hypertension?

Hypertension is a silent disease, but people may present with the following signs.

  • Headache.

  • Dizziness.

  • Tinnitus (ringing sound heard in the ear without any simultaneously applied sound).

  • Chest pain.

  • Weakness.

  • Structural changes in the heart and blood vessels.

What Is Hearing Loss and Stroke?

1. Hearing loss:

Hearing loss refers to a partial or complete inability to hear sounds. It can impact both ears and be either short- or long-lasting. Hearing loss can result from various causes, including aging, exposure to loud noises, infections, genetics, and certain medical conditions or injuries. A stroke, on the other hand, occurs when there's a disruption in the blood supply to the brain, leading to a lack of oxygen and nutrients. This may lead to the death of brain tissue and possibly result in several neurological disorders.

2. Stroke:

Strokes can be ischemic (caused by a blockage in a blood vessel) or hemorrhagic (caused by bleeding into the brain). There is a link between hearing loss and stroke. Some studies suggest that individuals with hearing loss might have a higher risk of experiencing strokes or other cardiovascular events. The exact relationship between the two is not entirely clear, but it's believed that cardiovascular health issues might contribute to both conditions. Additionally, the social and cognitive effects of hearing loss might also play a role in increasing stroke risk.

Does High Blood Pressure Have the Potential to Cause Hearing Loss?

High blood pressure, or hypertension, can impact various organs and systems in the body due to the strain it places on blood vessels.

Here's a more detailed breakdown of how it might relate to hearing loss:

1. Inner Ear Circulation:

Variations in blood flow can cause alterations in the inner ear. Elevated blood pressure can harm the inner ear's fragile blood vessels, which could impact the oxygen flow to this vital sensory organ.

2. Sensorineural Hearing Loss:

Sensorineural hearing loss is a particular kind of auditory damage that may be exacerbated by chronic hypertension. This impairment involves damage to the inner ear or the nerves that transmit sound signals to the brain.

3. Microvascular Damage: Hypertension can lead to microvascular damage in various body parts, including the inner ear. This damage might impact the structures responsible for sound transmission and perception.

4. Increased Risk Factors:

High blood pressure is often associated with other health issues that can also contribute to hearing loss, such as cardiovascular disease and diabetes. These conditions might exacerbate the impact of hypertension on hearing health.

Does High Blood Pressure Have the Potential to Lead to Ear Pain?

  • High blood pressure, or hypertension, typically doesn't directly cause ear pain. However, extremely high blood pressure levels might indirectly contribute to sensations perceived as discomfort within the ears.

  • For instance, severely elevated blood pressure might lead to pulsatile tinnitus, where individuals hear a rhythmic thumping or whooshing sound in their ears, aligning with their heartbeat. Though not categorized as ear pain, this sensation might be mistaken for discomfort within the ear.

  • Additionally, complications stemming from uncontrolled hypertension, which affects blood vessels throughout the body, could indirectly impact the ears, potentially leading to changes in hearing or balance.

  • While there is no direct cause-and-effect relationship between high blood pressure and ear pain, individual responses to fluctuations in blood pressure can vary, and some may experience ear-related sensations due to extreme changes.

What Are the Mechanisms of the Development of Hearing Loss in Hypertensives?

  • One mechanism explained is the increase in blood viscosity that reduces the blood flow in the capillaries, thereby reducing oxygen transport. This causes tissue hypoxia (reduced oxygenation), thus causing hearing loss in patients.

  • Inner ear damage can occur due to high pressure in the vascular system. This can cause progressive hearing loss.

  • Arterial hypertension may cause ionic changes that can lead to hearing loss.

  • Hypertension causes degeneration of the inner ear due to an alteration in the microcirculation, thus accelerating the aging process in the inner ears.

  • Various studies have been undertaken that prove that hypertension accelerates the development of hearing loss. They show a significant correlation between hearing loss and blood pressure levels. Some studies have concluded that hearing loss in the elderly is the result of a long duration of hypertension and its related complications. There have been studies that specifically show the effect hypertension has on the vascular psychodynamics of the cochlea.

What Are the Approaches to Managing High Blood Pressure-Related Hearing Loss and Ear Discomfort?

Prioritize blood pressure management through lifestyle changes (such as a balanced diet low in sodium, regular exercise, and stress reduction techniques) and medications as prescribed by a healthcare professional. Routinely monitor both blood pressure and any changes in hearing. Report any unusual sensations or changes in hearing to a healthcare provider promptly. Minimize exposure to loud noises and use ear protection in environments with excessive noise to prevent further damage to the auditory system.

See an ear, nose, and throat (ENT) expert or audiologist to determine the degree of deafness and ear pain. They can guide hearing aids or other assistive devices if necessary. Manage other health conditions often associated with high blood pressure, such as diabetes or cardiovascular issues, to minimize their impact on hearing health. Adopt healthy habits that support overall well-being, including adequate sleep, maintaining a healthy weight, avoiding smoking, and limiting alcohol intake.

Conclusion

Hence, there must be regular ear checkups among the hypertensives. Any hearing loss before the discovery of hypertension should be documented. Hypertensives should strictly take their medications and adhere to the doctors’ advice to maintain their blood pressure within the acceptable range and eventually avoid the complications of hypertension. One can consider consulting a doctor online and getting an online doctor prescription refill to avoid skipping medicine doses if in-person visits to the doctor are not possible.

Source Article IclonSourcesSource Article Arrow
Dr. Shyam Kalyan. N
Dr. Shyam Kalyan. N

Otolaryngology (E.N.T)

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