Hypertension and Hearing Loss

Doctor measures the pressure of the patient during a medical examination and consultation in the hospital

Did you realize that high blood pressure can also increase your risk of developing age-related hearing loss?

From around 40 years old and up, you may start to notice that your hearing is starting to fail. You most likely won’t even detect your developing hearing loss even though it’s an irreversible condition. Years of noise damage is usually the cause. So how is hearing loss caused by hypertension? The answer is that high blood pressure can cause extensive damage to your blood vessels, including those in your ears.

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

The blood that runs through your circulatory system can move at different speeds. When the blood moves quicker than normal it means you have high blood pressure. Over time, this can lead to damage to your blood vessels. These blood vessels that have been harmed lose their flexibility and frequently become blocked. A blockage can result in a stroke or other cardiovascular problems. Healthcare professionals usually 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

When your blood pressure gets as high as 180/120, it’s considered a hypertensive crisis. This type of event should be treated immediately.

How is hearing loss caused by hypertension?

Hypertension can cause widespread damage to your blood vessels, including the blood vessels inside of your ear. As these blood vessels become damaged, it’s likely that the nerves in your ear also endure lasting damage. The little hairs in your ears responsible for sensing vibrations, called 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.

This means that damage to the ears, regardless of the cause, can contribute to irreversible hearing loss. Studies found that those with healthy blood pressure readings tend to have a much lower prevalence of hearing loss. Those who reported higher blood pressure were also more likely to have more severe hearing loss. The effects of hearing loss, in other words, can be decreased by keeping blood pressure under control.

What does high blood pressure make your ears feel like?

In most cases, high blood pressure is a symptomless condition. So-called “hot ears” aren’t an indication of high blood pressure. What are hot ears? It’s a symptom in which your ears feel warm and grow red. Typically, it’s an indication of changes in blood flow related to emotions, hormones, and other non-blood pressure-associated problems.

High blood pressure can sometimes exacerbate symptoms of tinnitus. But if your tinnitus was a result of high blood pressure, how could you tell? The only way to tell for sure is to talk to your doctor. In general, however, tinnitus is not a sign of high blood pressure. There’s a reason that high blood pressure is often referred to as “the silent killer”.

The majority of individuals find out they have high blood pressure when they go in for an annual exam and have their vitals taken. It’s a good reason to make sure you don’t miss those regular appointments.

How is high blood pressure treated?

Usually, there are various factors that contribute to high blood pressure. That’s why lowering blood pressure might call for a variety of strategies. In general, you should work with your primary care doctor to lower your blood pressure. Here’s what that management could entail:

  • Avoid sodium: Keep the sodium intake to a minimum. Find lower salt alternatives when possible (or avoid processed foods when possible).
  • Diet changes: Eating a Mediterranean diet can help you reduce blood pressure. Essentially, stay away from foods like red meats and eat more vegetables and fruits.
  • Get more exercise: Your blood pressure can be kept under control by getting regular exercise.
  • Take medication as prescribed: In some cases, no amount of diet and exercise can counter or successfully treat high blood pressure. Although diet and exercise can be helpful, there are some cases where it will be necessary to use blood pressure medication as prescribed to manage hypertension.

You and your primary care provider will formulate a treatment plan to address your blood pressure. Can hearing loss as a result of high blood pressure be reversed? In some cases the answer is yes and in others not so much. There is some evidence to indicate that decreasing your blood pressure can help restore your hearing, at least in part. But at least some of the damage will most likely be permanent.

Your hearing will have a better chance of recovering if you treat your blood pressure promptly.

How to safeguard your hearing

You can protect your hearing in other ways besides lowering your blood pressure. This could include:

  • Talk to us: Getting your hearing screened regularly can help you preserve your hearing and detect any hearing loss early.
  • Avoiding loud venues and events: Loud sounds should be avoided because they can cause damage. If these places are not completely avoidable, minimize your time in loud environments.
  • Wear hearing protection: You can safeguard your hearing by utilizing earplugs, earmuffs, or noise canceling headphones.

We can help you maintain your hearing into the future, so book an appointment as soon as possible.

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.