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Hypertension (High Blood Pressure) and Hearing Loss: How Are They Linked?
What is blood pressure?
Blood pressure is a measure of the force of blood flow against the walls of your blood vessels. This force is measured by means of a systolic and diastolic reading. The systolic reading measures the pressure when the heart pushes blood out, while the diastolic reading measures the pressure when your heart is relaxed in between beats and not pumping blood.
Hypertension indicates that your heart is pumping blood through arteries very fast. This creates excessive force causing damage to the smooth lining of blood vessel walls. Evidence suggests that Hypertension can affect up to half of individuals in urban areas, and the asymptomatic and persistent nature thereof presents major challenges in identifying these individuals to provide optimal medical care. The exact cause of Hypertension is not known.
Are you at risk?
A few factors increase the risk of developing Hypertension, including:
- High sodium intake
- Lack of exercise
- Significant alcohol consumption
How can Hypertension lead to Hearing Loss?
Hypertension damages the blood vessels of the body, including the vessels that carry blood to our ears. This damage causes a reduced blood circulation to the cochlea, which in turn leads to a decrease in the oxygen supply to the cochlea and the loss of ear cells. If Hypertension is longstanding, permanent damage can occur to the inner ear structures.
Pharmacological management of Hypertension can entail the use of drugs with ototoxic effects. Ototoxicity refers to the adverse damaging effects some medications can have on the auditory structures. The prolonged use of these medications puts individuals at a higher risk of impaired hearing. Symptoms of possible damage includes hearing loss, tinnitus (most described as ringing in the ears), and vertigo and/or dizziness. The onset of these symptoms can be simultaneous or singular.
How do I know if I am at risk of developing a hearing loss?
If you are unsure whether your blood pressure is under control, take the opportunity to have it tested.
If you are already using chronic medication for your blood pressure, we recommend annual hearing tests to monitor any changes in your hearing.
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