The link between hearing loss and high blood pressure

If you have been diagnosed with high blood pressure, then you are among the 1.13 billion people worldwide living with hypertension. But are you keeping your blood pressure under control? One in five people don’t properly manage their high blood pressure, putting them at risk of hearing loss and tinnitus and other life-threatening conditions.

How blood pressure affects your ears

Both high and low blood pressure can cause changes to the viscosity of your blood. This is the measurement of how thick and sticky your blood is and controls how easily your blood flows through your blood vessels. When there is increased viscosity, often related to high blood pressure, less blood may flow through the capillaries which supplies your inner ear structures. As a result, less oxygen will reach this part of your ear. This can eventually lead to you developing problems with your hearing, and potentially experiencing hearing loss.

Hearing loss & high blood pressure – linked?

When your blood pressure is high, the blood in your body pushes through your arteries at a very fast rate. This can damage the artery wall lining resulting in fatty plaque building up. This damage and build-up of plaque affects your whole body – including your ears – and can lead to hearing loss. Put simply, the higher your blood pressure, the worse your hearing could become.

Tinnitus and high blood pressure

There are three main potential links between tinnitus and high blood pressure (ringing in the ear). They are:

  • Medication to treat high blood pressure
  • Stress and anxiety
  • Circulatory issues, resulting in high blood pressure

Medication

Some medications prescribed to treat high blood pressure can also cause tinnitus, particularly when taken at high doses. People also take aspirin, a blood-thinning medication, as a way to keep their blood pressure under control and minimize the risk of heart attacks. Aspirin, when taken in high doses, can also cause some temporary tinnitus-type symptoms.

Stress and anxiety

It’s well known that stress and anxiety can contribute to high blood pressure and tinnitus. When you feel stressed, your body produces hormones that increase your blood pressure. With tinnitus, stress can create activity in the limbic system. When people are experiencing anxiety, they often focus more on their tinnitus which causes their perception of the sounds to be stronger. At the same time, tinnitus can become a stressor that raises your blood pressure.

Circulatory system dysfunction

To enable it to function correctly, your inner ear relies on a system of vessels to supply blood. If this blood supply doesn’t function properly, the inner ear can eventually become damaged. This means the same circulatory issues that lead to high blood pressure can also contribute to your tinnitus.

Easing tinnitus for high blood pressure

Your doctor will have likely discussed with you the various ways in which you can reduce your high blood pressure. Addressing certain lifestyle factors, from managing your stress levels to what you eat are particularly important. But this can in turn also help reduce your tinnitus symptoms. Some simple ways you can reduce your blood pressure and risk of developing tinnitus include:

  • Engaging in mindfulness and stress reduction techniques
  • Getting regular daily exercise
  • Eating a healthy, balanced diet
  • Reducing your caffeine intake
  • Take part in counselling sessions for anxiety and stress
  • Stopping smoking
  • Reducing the salt in your diet
  • Taking your medication as prescribed

Book hearing test & blood pressure check

If you know you have high blood pressure, then it’s important you book a consultation with a licensed hearing care professional and tell them of your diagnosis. Likewise, if you have become aware that you are experiencing some hearing loss or symptoms of tinnitus, make sure you get your blood pressure checked as soon as possible.

Hearing loss and tinnitus can be life-changing and lead to a number of serious mental and physical health concerns. Keeping your blood pressure under control is not only important for reducing your risks of having a stroke or heart attack in the future, but it can also protect your hearing health, too.

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