Sit Less. Move more. Hear Better?
This is exactly what recent studies from the American Speech-Language-Hearing Association are suggesting. In fact, the studies are showing that with good cardiovascular health a person in their fifties could hear as well as a person in their thirties. The first author of the study, Dr. Kathleen Hutchinson, believes that cardiovascular fitness contributes to better integrity in the cochlea by ensuring plenty of oxygen-rich blood to the surrounding organs and specifically to the outer hair cells in the ear.
While noise exposure and age seem to be two main culprits associated with hearing loss, the study mentioned above has accumulated identifying factors that have little to do with age or noise exposure and much to do with cardiovascular health, including cholesterol and triglyceride levels that indicate blood flow and oxygen delivery. It is suggested that exercises that change the body shape are the only proven mechanisms associated with exercise that positively impact hearing sensitivity. Improvements in muscle strength and flexibility, balance, agility, and coordination while shown to improve overall health have not been shown to benefit hearing.
The question we must ask is now, “Is this a two lane road?” If better cardiovascular health can lead to better hearing, can regular hearing tests help diagnose cardiovascular issues sooner? David R. Friedland, MD, PhD, Professor and vice-Chair of Otolaryngology and Communication Sciences at the Medical College of Wisconsin in Milwaukee published a study in The Laryngoscope in 2009 that concluded that patients with low frequency hearing loss should be considered at-risk for cardiovascular pathology and that appropriate referrals should be made.
All this evidence supports a claim that the audiologists of HearCare and many other in the hearing profession have been making all along about the extreme importance of a yearly hearing test for adults. Besides providing a baseline for your hearing range and identifying changes as soon as possible, a crucial secondary benefit is that your audiogram could potentially result in an earlier diagnosis and intervention of a developing heart condition.