How does your health affect your ears?
When you schedule your baseline hearing test, you will notice that there is some new patient information you will be asked to fill out. The first page is basic demographic information--your name, address, birthday. We'll ask for the name of your referring physician, and your health insurance information for billing purposes. At the bottom of the page, we'll ask you to sign giving your consent for treatment.
The second page asks about your health history. We'll ask about health conditions such as heart disease, diabetes, high blood pressure and stroke. We'll ask about what medications you are currently taking. There will also be a few questions related to your hearing health. Did other members of your family have trouble with their ears or their hearing? Have you spent a lot of time around high levels of noise? Do you experience ringing in the ears or dizziness?
Patients are often curious why they are asked to give information about their medical status and medication use when they are coming in to have their ears checked. The reason we ask is because your overall health and what medications you take can have a big impact on how well you hear. For example, individuals with diabetes go every year to the optometrist and podiatrist to get their eyes and the soles of their feet checked for neuropathy--there are nerves in your ears too! People with heart disease are at higher risk for hearing loss because of the reduced blood flow to the tiny vessels in their ears. Sometimes people with high blood pressure experience more ringing in the ears.
Certain medications that we take for our health conditions can impact our ears as well. Chemotherapy and other cancer treatment drugs can damage the tiny nerve endings in the inner part of the ear. Many antidepressant medications have tinnitus or vertigo as a side effect. Individuals who are taking five or more medications on a daily basis are at an increased risk for dizziness and falling.
Your audiologist will not give you advice on which medications to take for your medical conditions--your primary care physician or other prescribing specialist are the best people to ask about what to take to treat various illnesses or injuries. But we can tell you which medications or medical conditions increase your risk for hearing loss, tinnitus, or dizziness.
Questions? Give us a call at (410) 672-1233 (Odenton) or (410) 672-1244 (Severna Park).