Cholesterol is a type of fat or lipid that’s found in your blood and cells. Our livers naturally produce cholesterol. However, it can also be absorbed into the body by eating certain foods that contain it.
In the right amount, cholesterol is essential for your body to function. Unfortunately, high levels can increase your risk of heart disease and other health problems, including hearing loss.
Research on Cholesterol and Hearing Loss
Several studies have found a link between hearing loss and high cholesterol levels:
- A 2011 study found both that a diet high in cholesterol can negatively impact hearing and that switching to a low-cholesterol diet and taking cholesterol-lowering medications may decrease your risk.
- A 2014 study found that patients with high cholesterol were more likely to experience sudden sensorineural hearing loss.
How Can Cholesterol Impact Hearing
High cholesterol can lead to heart disease and impact blood flow throughout your body, including your ears. If blood flow to the inner ears is disrupted, it can damage the hair cells located in the cochlea. These cells play a vital role in the hearing process, and once they are damaged, cannot be repaired or regenerated. If enough of these cells are destroyed, permanent hearing loss will occur.
Maintaining Healthy Cholesterol Levels
You can take steps to achieve healthy cholesterol levels by:
- Eating a diet rich in fruits, vegetables, lean protein and healthy fats
- Minimizing junk food
- Getting daily exercise to improve blood flow
- Having regular checkups with your doctor to monitor cholesterol levels
- Taking statins or other cholesterol-lowering medications if prescribed by your physician
Getting Your Hearing Checked Out
Hearing loss is often gradual and progressive. The earlier you catch it, the better your hearing health will be. Make an appointment for a hearing test if you experience any of the following:
- Tinnitus (ringing in the ear)
- Needing to ask others to repeat themselves frequently
- Struggling to hear in busy places with a lot of background noise, like 600 Degrees Pizzeria & Drafthouse
- Difficulty understanding conversations on the phone
- Needing to turn the volume up loud when listening to music or watching TV
- Family members or friends have commented on your hearing
If you have hearing loss, treatment with hearing aids or other listening devices can make it easier to process sound and stay connected to the world around you.
For more information or to schedule an appointment, contact Hill Country Audiology today.