The Connection Between Hearing Loss and High Blood Pressure
Celebrating 35 years of Caring for Your Hearing
|Meredy Hase tests a child, 1987||Kupperman and Hase work to license audiologists in Wisconsin, 1989|
Hearing Loss UNDER Age 65
We used to think of hearing loss as something that only happened to our grandparents' generation. But you'd be surprised at how many people your age, and even younger, have a hearing problem.
According to a study recently published by the Better Hearing Institute, two-thirds of Americans with hearing loss are under the age of 65 and still in the work force. That includes one of every six "Baby Boomers" (ages 41 to 59) and one of every 14 "Generation X'ers" (age 29-40).
According to Meredy Hase, Doctor of Audiology, "Hearing loss is by no means an 'old person's disease' any longer. Each day, we see people of all ages come into our offices concerned they may have a hearing problem.
"There's even solid evidence to support the fact that for working Americans, hearing loss impacts their ability to make a living, up to $12,000 in lost income per year." (See related article)
Dr. Hase urges anyone who thinks they, or a loved one, may have a hearing loss to contact The Doctors of Audiology at Hearing Services without delay.
Auditory Deprivation refers to the fact that even though we "hear" with our ears, it's our brain that's the true organ of hearing.
When hearing loss is left untreated, the brain's ability to distinguish various sounds becomes less and less. Try to think of Auditory Deprivation as similar, in a sense, to muscles that atrophy when not used over a long period of time.
The reason Auditory Deprivation is important is that we have ample evidence proving how long people will wait before seeking help for a suspected hearing loss. Up to ten years, by some estimates.
In other words, the longer you wait to get help for your hearing loss, the less even the most advanced hearing instruments will be able to help you hear better. That's one more reason physicians recommend annual hearing checks as part of an overall health assessment.
The Doctors of Audiology at Hearing Services can perform hearing screenings that take only a few minutes. Concerned individuals are urged to contact them at the first signs of hearing loss, such as an inability to understand conversations in a crowded room or having to turn up the TV volume in order to hear.
Hearing & Income Loss
After years of research, there is new evidence that links hearing loss and loss of income. A study released by the Better Hearing Institute in Alexandria, VA, proves that untreated hearing loss may impact household income by as much as $12,000 per year.
The study also shows that hearing loss, which affects more than 28 million Americans, two thirds of whom are still in the work force, results in an annual loss of more than $100 billion in wages and worker productivity. The good news is people who find help for their hearing loss can regain up to 50% of that lost income.
According to Meredy Hase, Doctor of Audiology, "One of the misconceptions about hearing loss is that it's 'an old person's ailment'. But we know that hearing loss crosses all income lines and impacts people of all ages".
The new "Open Ear" Digital hearing instruments are especially designed to help Baby Boomers feel more comfortable about wearing hearing instruments.
Anyone interested in receiving a FREE Demonstration of Open Fit hearing technology are urged to contact the Doctors of Audiology at Hearing Services.
Hearing Loss & the Family
For years, both researchers and hearing healthcare professionals have known much about the causes of hearing loss and how it affects the person who suffers from it.
But not until recently has attention been paid as to the devastating effects hearing loss has on family members and friends as well. This past year alone, several organizations have weighed in with their findings on this often overlooked medical problem that by current estimates, affects the lives and families of more than 30 million Americans.
For example, the National Council on Aging (NCOA), a government agency whose task it is to research the lives of older Americans, released a study that confirms how often a person with hearing loss begins to feel isolated, eventually withdrawing from normal everyday activities and even from family and friends.
None of this is news, however, to Dr. Meredy Hase, who says, "I realized just how much hearing loss also affected family members when we''d spend so much time counseling them when we''d fit their loved one with hearing instruments".
The benefits of better hearing were the subject of an NBC report that aired on an installment of the NBC Nightly News. In that report, the testimonials of several patients and their families provided evidence of how lives can be changed for the good, once the decision has been made to seek help for a hearing problem.
Those interviewed talked about how experiences such as watching TV or enjoying conversations with loved ones - things that were not possible with hearing loss - were once again part of the everyday enjoyment of life. Social activities like dining at restaurants of going to the movies were also among the range of family life experienced through better hearing.
Thanks to recent advances in technology more help is available than ever before for those whose lives are affected by hearing loss. If left untreated, hearing loss will almost always become worse over time, another reason Dr. Hase urges people to contact the Doctors of Audiology at Hearing Services if a hearing loss is thought to exist.
More Hearing Healthcare News
Hypertension, or high blood pressure, is a major risk factor for stroke and heart disease, which affects nearly 70 million adults in the U.S., according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. This adds up to one in three adults! In addition to people with hypertension, the CDC states that one in three adults is living with elevated blood pressure or prehypertension. Prehypertension is not hypertension, but the blood pressure levels are above what is considered normal.
What is Blood Pressure?
Blood pressure is a measure of the force of blood against your blood vessel walls. When your blood pressure is taken, two numbers are noted. The top number is the systolic reading. This measures the pressure when your heart pushes blood out. The bottom number is the diastolic reading, which measures the pressure when your heart is relaxed between beats and is not pumping any blood. If the blood pressure is high, it means that your heart is pumping the blood through your arteries very fast. This excessive force causes damage to the smooth lining of blood vessel walls, resulting in areas where fatty plaque (made of fat, cholesterol and other substances) can build up and make a bump. The bump gets bigger as more plaque sticks to it. The long-term effect of this is that the blood vessels collect a significant amount of fatty plaque, which diminishes or stops blood flow. This can occur anywhere in the body. In some people, the plaque bump will rupture and cause a traveling blood clot.
What Causes Hypertension?
The exact causes of hypertension are not known. Several factors increase the risk of having high blood pressure such as high salt intake, smoking, obesity, lack of physical activity, significant alcohol consumption, stress, age and, of course, genetics. A recent study showed that only half of Americans with hypertension have it under control. A contributing factor to this is that hypertension is usually not something you feel. Most people do not know when their blood pressure increased and need to have their blood pressure checked to even know if they are within normal limits or not.
Hypertension and Hearing Loss
If an individual has high blood pressure, the blood vessels are damaged all over the body. This includes the vessels that carry blood to the ears. Studies show that people who have an increase in blood pressure have a higher rate of hearing loss. If the blood pressure stays high for a long period of time, it will permanently damage the hearing organs. For a person who has high blood pressure for a short time, the hearing may return to normal once the blood pressure is lowered. Because hearing loss affects quality of life, it is important to address the underlying cause of hearing loss rather than simply putting hearing aids on someone as the hearing continues to worsen.
Sudden Change in Hearing
The American Heart Association published an article about the relationship between sudden hearing loss and hypertension. Researchers found that there is a clear correlation between sudden change in hearing and blood pressure. The exact specifics are not well understood yet, but a sudden change in hearing is a significant warning flag and should not be ignored. This study showed that a person with sudden severe hearing loss was 150 percent more likely to experience a stroke within two years of the change in hearing.
The body changes as individuals age, making it important to have routine medical checkups even if you feel fine. The physician can help you manage your changing body and keep you informed of anything that may need attention before it causes significant disability. Part of the well visit examination will be focused on your history and family history of diseases. Physicians will check blood pressure, check for diabetes and cholesterol levels, as well as any physical concerns you have. You can ask for vision and hearing exams as well. Stay informed about your physical and hearing health to maintain the best quality of life.