High cholesterol, technical term – Hyperlipidemia, has been a problem for many years. Our intake of saturated fats has increased with more red meat and high fat dairy on our plates. Our cholesterol levels has risen and more Americans now take medication to control their cholesterol levels, many more have high cholesterol but either don’t know it or are treating it with lifestyle and dietary changes.
We are aware that high cholesterol levels can lead to heart attacks and strokes. How does high cholesterol affect our hearing? A study has been published in the Journal of Nutrition.
Over 2400 participants were in a study in which 32% had hearing loss and 68% did not. Dietary fat intake of all participants was looked at, and they examined the link between the different types of fats people were eating and the prevalence of hearing loss.
In this study it was found those participants who had the highest levels of cholesterol in their diets had a 33% higher chance of having serious hearing loss. They found that as a person’s diet went up in cholesterol, so did their chance of having hearing loss.
It was found that those participants who reported using medication to control their cholesterol were less likely to have hearing loss.
The study also showed participants who had a high amount of good fats (monounsaturated fats) in their diets had a reduced risk of progression of hearing loss over five years.
Studies are still continuing on how it is that high blood cholesterol leads to hearing loss.
One theory from this study 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.
This study shows us that the type of diet a person follows can influence their hearing, and it is completely within a person’s control. This study also showed that people who control high cholesterol with statin medication also have a lower incidence of hearing loss, and again, this is within a person’s control.
If you or a loved one has been diagnosed with high cholesterol, it is vital to have your/their hearing checked by an 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. Keep your hearing and your overall health in top form.