Hypertension and Hearing Loss

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

Are you aware that your chance of developing age-related hearing loss can be increased if you have high blood pressure?

From around 40 years old and up, you might start to notice that your hearing is starting to fail. You most likely won’t even notice your progressing hearing loss even though it’s a permanent condition. Typically, it’s the consequence of many years of noise-related damage. So how does hypertension lead to hearing loss? The blood vessels inside of your ears and your blood vessels in general can be damaged by high blood pressure.

Blood pressure and why it’s so significant

Blood pressure is a measure of how rapidly blood runs through your circulatory system. When the blood moves faster than normal it means you have high blood pressure. Damage to your blood vessels can happen over time because of this. These damaged vessels become less flexible and more prone to blockages. A blockage can result in a stroke or other cardiovascular problems. Healthcare professionals have a tendency to pay very close attention to a patient’s blood pressure for this reason.

So, what is considered to be 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 considered a hypertensive emergency. This kind of event should be dealt with immediately.

How can hypertension cause hearing loss?

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. Additionally, high blood pressure can negatively impact the stereocilia in your ear (the tiny hairs responsible for picking up vibrations). When these stereocilia become damaged, they don’t heal, so any damage is effectively permanent.

So regardless of the specific cause, irreversible hearing loss can be the consequence of any damage. Research indicates that people with normal blood pressure readings tend to have a much lower prevalence of hearing loss. Individuals who have hearing loss are more likely to have higher blood pressure. The effects of hearing loss, in other words, can be reduced by keeping blood pressure under control.

What does high blood pressure make your ears feel like?

Normally, the symptoms of high blood pressure are barely noticeable. High blood pressure isn’t the cause of “hot ears”. “Hot ears” is an affliction where your ears feel hot and become red. Normally, it’s a sign of changes in blood flow relating to emotions, hormones, and other non-blood pressure-related issues.

High blood pressure can sometimes worsen symptoms of tinnitus. But how can you tell if tinnitus is a result of high blood pressure? It’s impossible to tell for sure without talking to a doctor or hearing specialist. In general, however, tinnitus isn’t a symptom of high blood pressure. High blood pressure is sometimes referred to as “the silent killer” for a good reason.

Usually, it isn’t until you have your vitals taken at your annual exam that high blood pressure is discovered. It’s a good reason to make sure you don’t miss those regular appointments.

How can you lower your blood pressure?

High blood pressure is typically a result of a confluence of many different factors. That’s why lowering blood pressure may call for a variety of approaches. Your primary care doctor should be where you address your high blood pressure. That management might look like the following:

  • Diet changes: Your blood pressure can be reduced by eating a Mediterranean diet. Eat more fruits and veggies and avoid things like red meat.
  • Avoid sodium: Take note of the amount of salt in your food, particularly processed foods. Avoid processed food when possible and find lower sodium alternatives if you can.
  • Take medication as prescribed: In some cases, no amount of diet and exercise can counter or effectively manage high blood pressure. Even though diet and exercise can be helpful, there are some situations where it will be necessary to take blood pressure medication as prescribed to manage hypertension.
  • Get more exercise: Your blood pressure can be kept under control by exercising regularly.

A treatment plan to manage your blood pressure can be formulated by your primary care physician. Can hearing loss as a result of high blood pressure be reversed? The answer depends. There is some evidence to suggest that reducing your blood pressure can help revive your hearing, at least in part. But it’s also likely that at least some of the harm incurred will be permanent.

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

How to protect your hearing

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

  • Wear hearing protection: Earmuff, earplugs, and even noise canceling headphones can help you protect your hearing.
  • 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 these locations are not entirely avoidable, minimize your time in noisy environments.
  • Talk to us: Getting your hearing screened regularly can help you protect your hearing and identify any hearing loss early.

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