If you've begun to notice your hearing isn't what it once was, you may assume you're finally reaping the consequences of too many loud concerts in your teens or twenties. However, while exposure to loud sounds can damage some of the delicate components of your middle and inner ear, there are a number of illnesses and chronic conditions that can manifest themselves in hearing loss, from Lyme disease to allergies or even kidney disease. Read on to learn more about some unexpected health conditions that can impact your hearing.
Kidney and Heart Disease
Although the connection between kidney disease, heart disease, and hearing loss hasn't been fully explained, researchers have a few theories behind the much higher rate of hearing loss among those dealing with kidney or heart problems. The prevailing theory is that decreased kidney function can allow toxins to build up in the bloodstream, which damages nerves in the inner ear. Other researchers point to the overall decrease in circulation (common among those with heart disease) as a potential culprit for heart-related hearing loss.
Unfortunately, inner ear damage related to kidney or heart disease may not be reversible. However, quickly identifying the hearing loss and treating the underlying problem may prevent it from becoming worse.
With its symptoms mirroring so many other disorders--from lupus to chronic fatigue syndrome--Lyme disease can be tough to diagnose. However, a series of vague symptoms like fatigue, low-grade fever, and rash combined with a sudden total (or near-total) loss of hearing in one or both ears could indicate Lyme infection. You'll want to seek medical assistance as quickly as possible to begin a course of treatment.
Periodic dizziness in combination with hearing loss (that later returns to normal once the dizziness has faded) could indicate problems with your heart. From low blood pressure to dehydration or electrolyte imbalance, cardiovascular problems can often manifest themselves in a temporary loss of hearing.
Going to a cardiologist and having a stress test, EKG, or other tests performed can give you a better idea of how your heart is functioning and whether you need to make any lifestyle or medication changes to improve your health going forward.
Regardless of whether your hearing loss has been gradual or rapid, it's worth being checked out by a medical professional, such as at Children & Family Hearing Associates. Because hearing loss can be a symptom of so many different conditions, and can often be reversed if diagnosed at an early stage, having a hearing test performed and following up on the results with your doctor can be a great way to preserve your future health.