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

Age-related hearing loss usually starts to manifest in your 40s, 50s, or 60s. 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 blood vessels in your ears and your blood vessels in general can be damaged by high blood pressure.

What is blood pressure (and why is it important?)

The blood that flows through your circulatory system can move at various speeds. High blood pressure means that this blood flows more quickly than normal. Over time, this can create damage to your blood vessels. These damaged vessels grow less elastic and more prone to blockages. Cardiovascular issues, like a stroke, can be the result of these blockages. Healthcare professionals tend to pay very close attention to a patient’s blood pressure as a result.

What is considered high blood pressure?

The general 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 emergency occurs when your blood pressure goes over 180/120. Immediate management is needed when this happens.

How is hearing loss caused by hypertension?

The blood vessels inside of your ear and your entire body can be damaged by hypertension. Typically, the nerves in your ear will also be compromised along with these blood vessels. The tiny hairs in your ears responsible for picking up vibrations, known as stereocilia, can also be negatively impacted by high blood pressure. When these stereocilia become damaged, they don’t heal, so any damage is effectively permanent.

So regardless of the particular cause, irreversible hearing loss can be the result of any damage. Research indicates that people who have normal blood pressure readings tend to have a much lower prevalence of hearing loss. People who have hearing loss are more likely to have higher blood pressure. The impacts of hearing loss, in other words, can be reduced by keeping blood pressure under control.

What does high blood pressure feel like in your ears?

Usually, the symptoms of high blood pressure are barely noticeable. So-called “hot ears” aren’t a sign of high blood pressure. “Hot ears” is a condition where your ears feel hot and get red. Usually, it’s a sign of changes in blood flow relating to emotions, hormones, and other non-blood pressure-related issues.

High blood pressure can sometimes exacerbate symptoms of tinnitus. But how do you know if tinnitus is a result of high blood pressure? The only way to know for certain is to talk to your doctor. In general, however, tinnitus is not a sign of high blood pressure. High blood pressure is sometimes called “the silent killer” for a good reason.

Most people notice high blood pressure when they go in for a yearly exam and have their vitals taken. This is one good reason to make sure you go to your yearly appointments.

How can you lower your blood pressure?

High blood pressure is usually a result of a confluence of numerous different factors. As a result, you might 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:

  • Diet changes: Eating a Mediterranean diet can help you lower blood pressure. Eat more fruits and veggies and abstain from things like red meat.
  • Get more exercise: Getting regular exercise (or simply moving around on a regular basis) can help reduce your overall blood pressure.
  • Take medication as prescribed: Sometimes, no amount of diet and exercise can prevent or effectively treat high blood pressure. In those cases, (and even in cases where lifestyle changes have helped), medication may be necessary to help you manage your hypertension.
  • Avoid sodium: Keep the sodium intake to a minimum. Steer clear of processed food when you can and find lower salt alternatives if possible.

You and your doctor will establish a treatment plan to deal with your blood pressure. Can you reverse any hearing loss brought on by high blood pressure? In some circumstances the answer is yes and in others not so much. There is some evidence to suggest that decreasing your blood pressure can help revive your hearing, at least in part. But at least some of the damage will most likely be permanent.

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

Protecting your hearing

You can safeguard your hearing in other ways besides reducing your blood pressure. Here are a number of ways:

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

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

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.