When my team of doctors once questioned a group of women of the menopausal age about the impact of menopause on their ear health, the queries came as a surprise to most of them. One said, “I know menopause causes hot flashes, but does it also affect the ears?” She isn’t alone.
There are many others as well who are unaware of the varying ear problems menopause can trigger. Did you know?
Around eight million women in the United States have trouble hearing. Moreover, two million women who can hear can best comprehend shouted words.
However, if we were to understand the gender specifically, females have better hearing than their male counterparts, mostly sounds above 2000 HZ frequencies. Now, if we focus on our topic of discussion, what impact does menopause have on a woman’s hearing? The hormonal imbalances trigger a whole lot of symptoms.
Does it impact the way you hear as well? I Dr. Karen Pike, would like to walk you through some vital information about the impact of ear health on menopause.
Before I do that, here are some words of introduction about myself.
I have been associated with the medical field for a long. While dealing with my female patients, it struck me that a majority of them weren’t aware of the basics of menopause, which often makes things more challenging for them.
Through my website, Simply Menopause, I aim to reach out to them and improve their knowledge about menopause and the transition phase in the best possible way.
Here is my take on the impact of menopause on ear health. Do give it a read.
How Does Menopause Affect Your Ear Health?
You may not want to hear this, but yes, menopause does affect your ear health to a certain extent. Estrogen and progesterone, which many perceive as only reproductive hormones, also have many other functions pertaining to your entire body.
They even have a positive impact on your auditory function.
Your ears possess estrogen receptors. When there is a fluctuation and eventually a dip in these hormone levels during and after menopause, your ear health gets impacted.
The low estrogen levels cause the mucus membranes in the inner ear to dry. When there are significant alterations in your inner ear, your hearing and balance will be immensely affected. Moreover, changes in estrogen levels also affect the blood flowing into the cochlea in your inner ear.
I was once going through the results of a study whose findings deduced that women undergoing menopause late and those who have used the oral form of hormone therapy have greater hearing loss risks.
However, this particular study was limited to white women of non-Hispanic origin. For accurate results, more studies are needed.
To sum up, if you are above 50 and are going through regular bouts of ear itchiness or hearing troubles, you could blame the fluctuating hormones and your growing age.
Ear Problems in Women During Menopause
Age-related hearing isn’t uncommon.
If I were to give you numbers, one in every three individuals aged 65 and above experience hearing loss. The changes do not happen all of a sudden; they are gradual.
That’s why many aren’t aware of it initially. However, hangings in your haring may even occur when you are transitioning into menopause. The reduced estrogen levels could result in the following concerns:
The reduced estrogen levels make the lining of your ear cavity dry.
Your overall skin gets dried and itchy during menopause, and this has an impact on the skin of your ears as well. In extreme cases, it could even trigger an eczema outbreak inside the ears or surrounding areas, especially in those with sensitive skin.
Ringing ears, medically called tinnitus, may occur for many reasons, including perimenopause. When estrogen levels are low, it accounts for weak ear blood vessels.
This is one of the reasons behind ringing ears or tinnitus. Few findings deduced that women experiencing tinnitus had lower estrogen levels than those who didn’t have this condition.
Stress during menopause and the transition phase isn’t uncommon because of the umpteen bodily changes one goes through. High anxiety levels could trigger tinnitus or make it worse if you already have it.
This is another way you could associate tinnitus with menopause. When you have tinnitus, you can hear a variation of sounds in one or both ears, varying in pitch from high to low. These include:
If you experience these sounds quite often, and they interfere with your daily life, contact the healthcare provider immediately.
If your ears feel clogged and blocked, there are ample reasons behind the same. It could be excessive ear wax, build-up, ear infections, eustachian tube blockage, ear infection, problems adjusting to high altitude, etc.
If you are in your late 40s or early 50s and constantly go through blocked ears, then the fluctuating hormone levels are speculated as one of the main reasons. If the low estrogen levels make your ears too dry, it often comes in the way of effective wax production.
This often leads to blocked ears. Besides blocked ears, it could even lead to associated symptoms like earaches, fullness, ringing noise, ear itchiness, muffled hearing, ear discharge, etc.
When you experience these problems for a prolonged period, you should contact the doctor soon.
Tips to Care For Your Ears in Menopause?
Ear care is essential always, irrespective of whether you are in menopause or not.
However, in menopause, when your hormones are all over the place, ear care is even more critical. Here are some tips to follow:
Get your ears checked regularly. If there aren’t any hearing issues, you should go for an ear examination once every ten years until you turn 50. After 50, you should examine your ears more frequently in three years. However, you should get an ear checkup earlier if you have hearing loss or other ear-related issues.
If you have hearing issues, make a conscious effort to lessen your exposure to loud noises. When you have continuous access to noise over 70 dB, it could damage your ears in the long run. Extremely loud noise crossing 120 dB may lead to instant ear damage. If listening to music through earphones, ensure the volume is controlled. Also, listen to earphones or headphones for not over an hour. If there is a lot of noise around you, try to avoid it. For instance, avoid staying close to loudspeakers. It may affect your hearing immensely.
Your ear health also depends immensely on your overall well-being. Stay hydrated. You must be wondering what this has got to do with your ears. Maintaining your fluid intake well could help your eustachian tubes function well and keep ear infections at bay. You must also eat healthy.
When you consume a high-fat diet, it aggravates your hearing issues.
Moreover, when you do not eat healthy, it could elevate your blood pressure, cholesterol, and sugar levels, triggering ear problems. I came across a study that said a diet comprising fruits and veggies lessened hearing loss risks by approximately 30%.
Folic acid, zinc, magnesium, and potassium are essential minerals that improve hearing. So, ensure that you have these included in your diet. Seeking a doctor’s consultation will help you make the correct diet choice in menopause for your ears and overall health.
Can Hormone Replacement Therapy Help with Hearing Issues?
Hormone replacement therapy helps to manage several menopausal symptoms like hot flashes, vaginal dryness, sleep issues, etc. There have even been some positive reviews of the role of hormone therapy in improving hearing.
Some findings have mentioned that postmenopausal women who didn’t opt for hormone therapy had poorer hearing than those who went for hormone therapy. Many experts say that taking the right kind of hormone therapy in the appropriate dosage helps in improving the symptoms of tinnitus.
I hope this interview helps to answer your queries about the impact of menopause on your hearing. The hormones affect your body in various ways during menopause. However, by leading a healthy lifestyle, you may combat their deeds to a greater extent and stay fit.
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