Do you have hypertension? You may not even know if you do. The Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) reports that about 1 in 3 U.S. adults with high blood pressure aren’t even aware they have it. The CDC reports that “even though most people with uncontrolled high blood pressure have health insurance and visit a health care team member at least twice a year, the condition is often not diagnosed.”
Hypertension, commonly known as high blood pressure, is an incredibly serious health condition. The CDC reports that “the higher your blood pressure levels, the more risk you have for other health problems, such as heart disease, heart attack, and stroke.” In addition studies are showing that there are several less acknowledged risks to our health and this includes hearing loss.
The Grave Nature of Hearing Loss
Blood pressure is the pressure of circulating blood against the walls of blood vessels. Most of this pressure is caused from the heart pumping blood throughout the circulatory system. However, when your blood pressure gets too high, the walls of blood vessels start to become compromised. They may begin to sustain damage as blood is pumped through them at higher rates, over time causing a buildup of plaque and limiting blood flow throughout the body.
Common causes of hypertension include a lack of mobility, a diet rich in fatty foods and processed sugars, genetic risk factors, age, alcohol consumption, salt intake and smoking. Monitoring for high blood pressure is essential as when detected it can be treated by modifications in lifestyle as well as medications to keep your blood pressure at a safe level.
Understanding How to Interpret Blood Pressure
Part of the problem is that people don’t know if they have hypertension and how to interpret it.
- Systolic blood pressure (the first number) – indicates the amount of pressure your blood is exerting against your artery walls when the heart beats and is most essential for monitoring your overall health.
- Diastolic blood pressure (the second number) – indicates the level of pressure your blood is exerting against your artery walls while the heart is resting between beats.
Blood pressure numbers of less than 120/80 mm Hg are considered within the normal range. Once numbers reach readings consistently ranging from 120-129 systolic and less than 80 mm Hg diastolic you are showing elevated blood pressure readings and in the danger zone for hypertension which can range depending on its severity from 130-140 systolic putting you at a risk for heart attack or stroke.
Hypertension and Hearing Loss
In addition to heart attack and stroke, hypertension may affect your hearing health. When high blood pressure goes unchecked, the blood vessels in the body sustain damage and this includes the cells of the inner ear. We collect sound with our ears, but hearing is not completed until sounds reach our brain. Our ears achieve this via tiny hair-like cells in the inner ear which are reliant on regular and ample amounts of oxygenated blood. As hypertension interrupts this flow our inner ear becomes more likely to suffer damage resulting in permanent hearing loss.
Sudden Changes in Hearing
If you have been experiencing issues hearing recently, it could mean that there is an issue with your blood pressure. Sadly, both hearing loss and hypertension are difficult to self-diagnose, meaning it’s important to schedule regular screenings for both. If you have hearing loss in your family, are over the age of 60, have been finding that you are asking people to repeat themselves more and more often, or struggle to hear in noisy environments, it’s a wise idea to schedule a hearing exam. Schedule your next hearing exam with us today!