Yesterday, an 80-something grandma paid me a visit, expressing dissatisfaction with her hearing aid's recent performance. She claimed difficulty understanding others, especially in noisy environments like the cafeteria or supermarket, despite using the hearing aid successfully for over a year. After examination, it turned out the hearing aid functioned normally, and her hearing hadn't significantly declined according to tests. However, communicating with her felt challenging, requiring me to repeat myself two or three times. Upon further inquiry, I learned that she had recently developed diabetes, resulting in an extended hospital stay and subsequent discharge. Additional speech recognition testing revealed a drop in accuracy from 70% to 25%, explaining her struggle in noisy places.

The "Three Highs"—hypertension, hyperlipidemia, and hyperglycemia—can indeed negatively impact hearing. Some patients experience hearing loss, while others exhibit a noticeable decline in speech recognition. The latter effect is often more subtle, with patients unaware of changes in their hearing but struggling to understand others, attributing it to unclear speech from those around them.

So, why do the "Three Highs" lead to hearing loss? Here are a few reasons:

  • Vascular Damage: Hypertension increases pressure within blood vessel walls, potentially causing damage. Blood vessels in the inner ear supply blood to the brainstem and auditory pathways. If these vessels are damaged, blood supply may be affected, resulting in hearing loss.

  • Nerve Damage: Hypertension and hyperlipidemia lead to atherosclerosis, narrowing the blood vessels supplying the inner ear. Prolonged untreated conditions can directly impact neurons related to hearing in the brainstem, impairing the transmission of auditory signals and causing hearing loss.

  • Microcirculation Disorders: Hypertension and hyperglycemia can cause microcirculation abnormalities. Capillaries in the inner ear are crucial for supplying auditory nerve cells and organ cells. Reduced blood supply due to microcirculation disorders negatively affects the health and function of inner ear cells, with a decrease in speech recognition.

  • Reduced Cochlear Oxygen Supply: The cochlea is responsible for converting sound signals and sending them to the brain. Adequate oxygen and nutrient supply through the blood are essential for maintaining cochlear cell health and function. High cholesterol can lead to vessel narrowing or blockages, reducing blood flow and oxygen supply to the cochlea, impairing cell function and causing hearing loss.

In summary, while the "Three Highs" may contribute to hearing loss, it doesn't mean everyone with hypertension, hyperlipidemia, or hyperglycemia will face hearing problems. There's significant individual variation, and some may experience hearing decline, while others may encounter health issues in different aspects. The "Three Highs" are like hidden "bombs" lurking within, ready to disrupt if not handled with care. Regular health check-ups, adopting healthy habits such as dietary changes, moderate exercise, weight management, smoking cessation, reduced alcohol intake, and lowering salt intake are crucial. Importantly, if diagnosed with the "Three Highs," maintaining a positive attitude and seeking active intervention under medical guidance is vital for protecting hearing and leading a healthy, joyful life.

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