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High blood pressure symptoms: Can you hear this? Warning sign in your ears
High blood pressure affects around a third of adults in the UK, although many people will not realise they have it. That’s because high blood pressure, also known hypertension, rarely produces noticeable symptoms. If left untreated, however, high blood pressure can produce pernicious effects.
One lesser-known effect is hearing loss or problems.
To understand how hearing loss could be linked to high blood pressure, it is helpful to first understand how high blood pressure affects the body.
High blood pressure is when the force of your blood pushing against the walls of your blood vessels is consistently too high.
The walls of your blood vessels, which include arteries, veins and capillaries, respond to this pressure by narrowing – a process that causes the heart to have to work harder to pump blood around the body.
This process can also cause changes to your blood viscosity, according to Specsavers.
Your blood viscosity is the measurement of thickness and stickiness of your blood — it determines how easily your blood flows through the blood vessels.
This may eventually result in problems with hearing or hearing loss.
Specsavers explains: “An increased blood viscosity (sometimes associated with high blood pressure) can mean that less blood flows through the capillaries supplying your inner ear structures and, as a result, less oxygen reaches this part of your ear.”
Research supports this lesser-known effect of high blood pressure.
Dr Mohan Jagade, a physician in the Department of ENT and Head and Neck Surgery, Grant Medical College and J.J. Hospital, and his team, evaluated the potential association between high blood pressure and hearing loss.
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In their research, a total of 274 individuals between the ages of 45 and 64 were evaluated.
Dr Jagade, and his colleagues discovered that for people with elevated blood pressure, there was a significant increase in the presence of hearing loss.
The researchers in the study concluded that hypertension is an accelerating factor in the degeneration of the auditory system and hearing as people age.
How do I know if I have high blood pressure?
Symptoms such as hearing loss are a rare phenomenon, so the only way of knowing whether you have high blood pressure is to get your blood pressure checked.
According to the NHS, blood pressure testing is available:
At your GP surgery – by a GP, practice nurse, healthcare assistant or self-service machine
At some pharmacies
At an NHS Health Check appointment offered to adults aged 40 to 74 in England
In some workplaces
At a health event.
You can also test your blood pressure at home using a home testing kit, notes the health body.
In fact, like 24-hour or ambulatory monitoring, this can give a better reflection of your blood pressure, it says.
How to treat high blood pressure
If you are diagnosed with high blood pressure, lifestyle changes are usually recommended to lower your reading.
As Mayo Clinic explains, your doctor may recommend you make lifestyle changes including:
Eating a heart-healthy diet with less salt
Getting regular physical activity
Maintaining a healthy weight or losing weight if you’re overweight or obese
Limiting the amount of alcohol you drink
“But sometimes lifestyle changes aren’t enough. In addition to diet and exercise, your doctor may recommend medication to lower your blood pressure,” notes the health body.
According to the health site, the category of medication your doctor prescribes depends on your blood pressure measurements and your other medical problems.
“It’s helpful if you work together with a team of medical professionals experienced in providing treatment for high blood pressure to develop an individualised treatment plan,” it adds.