Hearing Loss and Hypertension

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

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

From around 40 years old and up, you may begin to detect that your hearing is beginning to fail. Your symptoms might develop slowly and be largely invisible, but this kind of hearing loss is permanent. Years of noise damage is typically the cause. So how does hypertension cause hearing loss? 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?)

Blood pressure is a measure of how quickly blood moves through your circulatory system. High blood pressure means that this blood flows more quickly than normal. Over time, this can cause damage to your blood vessels. These damaged vessels grow less elastic and more prone to blockages. Cardiovascular problems, such as a stroke, can be the consequence of these blockages. That’s one reason why healthcare professionals often pay close attention to your blood pressure.

What constitutes high blood pressure?

Here are the general ratings for high blood pressure:

  • Normal: 120/8o
  • Stage 1 Hypertension: 130-139/80-89
  • Stage 2 Hypertension: 140 or Higher/90 or higher

When your blood pressure goes as high as 180/120, it’s regarded as a hypertensive emergency. Immediate management is needed when this occurs.

How is hearing loss caused by hypertension?

The blood vessels in your ear and your entire body can be damaged by hypertension. As these blood vessels get damaged, it’s likely that the nerves in your ear also endure lasting damage. The little hairs in your ears responsible for picking up vibrations, known as stereocilia, can also be negatively impacted by high blood pressure. When these stereocilia get damaged, they don’t heal, so any damage is effectively irreversible.

This means that damage to the ears, no matter the cause, can result in irreversible hearing loss. Studies found that those who have normal blood pressure readings tend to have a much lower prevalence of hearing loss. People who reported higher blood pressure were also more likely to have more severe hearing loss. The findings of the research make clear that keeping your blood pressure under control can help you avoid the impacts of hearing loss.

What does high blood pressure feel like in your ears?

Usually, the symptoms of high blood pressure are hardly noticeable. So-called “hot ears” are not a sign of high blood pressure. What are hot ears? It’s a symptom in which your ears feel warm and grow red. Usually, it’s an indication of changes in blood flow relating to emotions, hormones, and other non-blood pressure-related problems.

High blood pressure can sometimes worsen symptoms of tinnitus. But if your tinnitus was a result of high blood pressure, how could you tell? The only way to know for certain is to talk to your doctor. Tinnitus generally isn’t a symptom of high blood pressure. There’s a reason that high blood pressure is often called “the silent killer”.

Typically, it’s not until you get your vitals taken at your annual exam that high blood pressure is discovered. This is one good reason to be certain that you go to your yearly appointments.

How can you lower your blood pressure?

High blood pressure is typically a result of a confluence of various different factors. Consequently, you might have to take numerous different measures and use a variety of methods to successfully lower your blood pressure. In general, you should talk with your primary care provider to lower your blood pressure. That management may look like the following:

  • Diet changes: Eating a Mediterranean diet can help you lower blood pressure. Basically, stay away from foods like red meats and eat more fruits and vegetables.
  • Avoid sodium: Keep the sodium intake to a minimum. Steer clear of processed food when possible and find lower salt alternatives if possible.
  • Take medication as prescribed: In some cases, no amount of diet and exercise can prevent or successfully treat high blood pressure. In those instances, (and even in situations where lifestyle changes have helped), medication could be required to help you control your hypertension.
  • Get more exercise: Exercising regularly (or simply moving around on a regular basis) can help reduce your overall blood pressure.

You and your doctor will develop a treatment plan to address your blood pressure. Can you reverse any hearing loss caused by high blood pressure? The answer depends. You might be able to restore your hearing to some degree by lowering your blood pressure, according to some evidence. But it’s also likely that at least some of the harm incurred will be irreversible.

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

How to protect your hearing

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

  • Avoiding loud venues and events: Try to steer clear of overly loud noises when you can, as these noises can result in damage to your ears. If you really need to be in an environment with overly loud noise, at least minimize your exposure time.
  • Talk to us: Getting your hearing screened regularly can help you preserve your hearing and detect any hearing loss early.
  • Wear hearing protection: Earmuff, earplugs, and even noise canceling headphones can help you safeguard your hearing.

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