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High Cholesterol and Hearing Loss

Feb 05, 2014 High Cholesterol and Hearing Loss

We know that there’s a link between cardiovascular disease and hearing loss, and high blood pressure and hearing loss. But what about blood cholesterol level? Can high cholesterol lead to hearing loss? Read about the connection between high cholesterol and hearing loss…

Hyperlipidemia, more commonly known as high cholesterol, has been a problem in our nation for many years. As our intake of saturated fats has increased with more red meat and high fat dairy on our plates, our cholesterol levels have risen so that more than 15 million Americans now take medication to control their cholesterol levels, and many millions more have high cholesterol but either don’t know it yet or are treating it with dietary and lifestyle changes.


Studying High Cholesterol and Hearing Loss

Our culture is well aware of the high incidence of hyperlipidemia in the population, and we have been well informed about how our high cholesterol levels can lead to heart attacks and strokes. But what about our hearing? How does our high cholesterol affect how we hear the world around us? A study published in the Journal of Nutrition in 2011 aimed to find out.


Over 2400 Participants

The study looked at over 2400 participants, 32% with hearing loss and 68% without hearing loss. They looked at the dietary fat intake of all participants, examined the link between the different types of fats people were eating and the prevalence of hearing loss.


High Cholesterol Leads To Hearing Loss

The study found that those participants who had the highest levels of cholesterol in their diets had a 33% higher chance of having serious hearing loss. They also found that as a person’s diet went up in cholesterol, so did their chances of having hearing loss.


Statin Medication Can Stop Hearing Loss

One interesting outcome that the study found was that those participants who reported using medication to control their cholesterol were less likely to have hearing loss.


Good Fats Can Slow Down Hearing Loss

The study also showed that participants who had a high amount of monounsaturated fats (good fats) in their diet had a reduced risk of progression of hearing loss over five years.

Studies in this area are new, and still being done. So we don’t know exactly how it is that high blood cholesterol leads to hearing loss, but the study from the Journal of Nutrition did have some excellent theories.


Inflammation Can Lead To Less Blood Flow

One theory is that a high cholesterol diet leads to inflammation that reduces blood flow to the inner ear. Reduced blood flow means less oxygen in the inner ear, reduced delivery of nutrients, and less waste being removed – which can leave the inner ear more vulnerable to damage from other factors such as noise or the aging process.


Your Diet Makes A Difference

This study is valuable because it shows us that the type of diet a person follows can influence their hearing, and that is completely within a person’s control. It also showed us that those people who control their high cholesterol with statin medication also have a lower incidence of hearing loss, and again, this is something that is within a person’s control.


Make An Audiologist Part Of Your Health Care Team

If you or a loved one has high cholesterol, it is important that you get your hearing checked with a professional audiologist. An audiologist knows the right questions to ask and the right places to look when it comes to your hearing and how it relates to your overall health. Your heart, your health and your hearing are all connected. Work with a professional audiologist to help keep your hearing - and your overall health - in top form.

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