Protect Your Hearing by Protecting Your Heart

Protect Your Hearing by Protecting Your Heart

When we talk about our hearts, we think of a lot of things: our emotions, our souls, our dreams and desires. We also think of the physical organ that sustains our lives and pumps life-giving blood to every part of our bodies.

It’s no wonder February, the month of love and Valentine’s Day, 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 can also affect hearing health? When you take care of your heart, you are also taking care of your hearing!

Heart-Related Diseases that Can Influence Hearing

Hypertension, or high blood pressure (140/90 or higher), can stretch your arteries which can cause vascular weakness and scarring. These problems may eventually lead to blood clots and a build-up of plaque that clogs arteries.

Because the inner ear is reliant on healthy blood flow, any interruption can damage the inner ear hair cells that help our brains to translate sounds into meaning. Blood pressure medications can also damage hearing–some people develop tinnitus, or ringing in the ears.

Smoking is a very harmful habit: it damages every organ in the body and one in five deaths in the U.S. results from it. Dozens of chemicals in cigarette smoke damage blood cells and even the structure and function of your veins. In turn, plaque develops in arteries, hardening and narrowing them and causing stress to your heart.

Your hearing is also affected by the chemicals found in cigarettes. The neurotransmitters in the auditory nerve can be partially blocked, confusing your brain when it hears sound. Vertigo, dizziness and tinnitus can also result.

Diabetes is a widespread disease in the United States today and type 2 (adult onset) diabetes is the worst offender. High blood sugar, or hyperglycemia, can affect blood flow by overtaxing the heart and other organs.

This decrease in blood flow can damage hearing health, because the hair cells in the ears are dependent on healthy blood flow to function properly. Once the tiny hair cells in the inner ear die, they do not grow back, and the hearing damage is irreversible. People who have diabetes are twice as likely to suffer from hearing damage.

Obesity is a major issue in America today. Excess weight stresses your heart and increases the chances you will develop heart disease, in turn increasing the risk of heart failure. High blood pressure and diabetes often result from obesity as well.

Because obesity affects your heart and blood flow to the rest of your body, the hair cells of your inner ear are affected. The hair cells in the inner ear help the brain to translate noise into intelligible sound, so once those tiny hair cells are damaged, hearing is damaged as well.

A sedentary lifestyle is common in America today: we sit at our computer desks all day long and then go home and sit on the couch 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 small changes make a huge difference: switch out your morning pop tart for eggs, and your afternoon chips for an apple, cheese or nuts. Take a walk around the block at lunch time and after work. Park at the back of the parking lot and take the stairs instead of the elevator. These little things add up!

Alcoholism is another issue in modern society that has damaging health implications. While drinking a glass of wine at dinner can have health benefits, excessive consumption of alcohol increase risk of high blood pressure, as well as weakening the heart.

The inner ear is also susceptible to damage from the free radicals produced by excessive consumption of alcohol, and the brain can even shrink as a result. These issues can also result in tinnitus, balance issues like vertigo, and noise-induced hearing loss.

If you want to protect your heart, and by extension your hearing health, keep a few simple things in mind:

  • Maintain a healthy weight
  • Stay active
  • Eat a whole-food, unprocessed diet
  • Quit smoking
  • Limit intake of alcohol
  • Get regular hearing screenings

Love your heart, and your hearing in February and all year long!

Los Gatos Audiology is here to help you protect your hearing health. Call today and come in for your yearly hearing exam so you can stay ahead of the curve and protect your hearing, your brain and your health.

We’ve served San Jose and the Bay Area for over 40 years, providing the right solution for Your Life. Your Style.

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