Hearing loss and deafness have become a global issue. Did you know that around 1.5 billion of the world’s population are experiencing hearing loss? There have been umpteen times when we have taken our ear health for granted. But little do we realize that healthy ears contribute to our overall well-being.
The other day at the doctor’s, I came across a woman in her late 40s who mentioned how troublesome her hearing got as she progressed in age. She did face minor problems before but didn’t take them seriously.
With age, her ringing sensations and hearing issues kept getting worse. The doctor told her it was the changing hormones that aggravated the underlying ear condition she already had.
So, if you thought menopause meant just mood swings, brain fog, or hot flashes to you, then you were mistaken. You could experience several symptoms that you may not have even imagined. Hearing issues are one of them.
Before we discuss ear health and menopause, let me introduce myself. This is Sabrina Johnson. I’d like to call myself a compassionate author with a sound knowledge in the field of gynecology. If you find yourself all alone in your menopause journey, I am here to help. You could know more about me for a better understanding. Here we go.
Ear Health and Menopause – The Connection Between the Two
If you haven’t been through menopause yet or haven’t faced issues with your ears, you might be wondering what on earth menopause has to do with the ears. You could attribute it to the changing hormonal levels.
Animal and human studies have highlighted that low estrogen levels in the post-menopause stage could be responsible for ear problems in women. It isn’t unknown that estrogens aren’t just reproductive hormones.
They have other functions as well and control most of the organs of your body. Low estrogen levels affect the inner ear’s mucus membrane, making it dry.
This impacts your hearing and balance, triggering dizziness and hearing issues when you are in the perimenopause or menopause stage. When your ears are too dry, it could increase wax production, putting you at risk of blocked ears.
Ear Conditions That are Quite Common in Menopause
In menopause, the reduced estrogen levels could lead to specific changes in your ear health, manifesting in some of the conditions mentioned below.
Itchiness in the Ears – The lessened hormonal levels make the inner ear dry, which is one of the reasons for itchy ears in menopause. There are quite a lot of home remedies to treat itchy ears.
Olive oil, rubbing alcohol, white-vinegar-water mixture, etc., are some of the ingredients mainly used to find relief from itchy ears. However, if your itching is intense, it’s better to contact the doctor.
Blocked Ears – Blocked ears can occur due to a whole lot of reasons. There could be a blockage in the eustachian tube. It could be allergies, sinus problems, or ear infections.
In menopause, one of the main reasons for blocked ears is the increased dryness of the ear canal. When your ears are blocked too often, it makes you an easy target for viral infections. If your ears appear repeatedly swollen or inflamed due to the blockage, the inner tissues could be damaged.
Tinnitus – Tinnitus is a condition where one experiences a buzzing or ringing sound in either a single ear or both ears. There are many reasons behind tinnitus, like an injury, infection, or hearing loss due to aging. It could also indicate any underlying condition like increased blood pressure, anemia, or allergic reactions.
In menopause, when you experience too much buzzing, humming, or ringing in your ears, you could conveniently blame it on the reduced estrogen levels.
Low estrogen levels often result in poor blood circulation. The blood vessels in the ears get affected, too. This may lead to buzzing or humming sounds. However, if the sounds keep coming often, and your daily life gets affected, contact your healthcare provider immediately.
Changes in Hearing – Most individuals experience hearing loss as they age. The ratio is 1 in 3 adults aged 65 and above. Most individuals have trouble with high-pitched sounds.
With age, the blood flow to the ears lessens, and the low estrogen levels that happen with menopause also affect the blood circulation to the ears. So, older women might often experience hearing loss.
Essential Tips for Optimal Hearing
There isn’t much to do about the lessened hormone levels. When you take good care of your ears and get them checked regularly, you can lessen menopause-related ear issues to a greater extent.
Diet has a more significant impact on maintaining your ear health. A study showed that a diet high in fat increased the chances of hearing difficulties. You should eliminate foods high in salt, fats, and sugar. Eat more veggies, whole grains, fruits, and fish. When you eat healthy, it’ll not just be beneficial for your ears but your overall health as well.
Keeping yourself hydrated by upping your water intake will help to lessen the risks of ear infections. When you drink sufficient water, it helps to flush the viruses and bacteria from your body, reducing the chances of infection.
If you’ve crossed 50, you should go for ear checks once every three years. However, if your ear gets affected too often, a yearly ear examination is recommended.
When there’s an accumulation of wax in your ears, quite often, do not keep trying home remedies. That could worsen things. It is better to consult the doctor, as it might be due to an underlying condition.
Frequently Asked Questions
Can hormone therapy help with menopause-related ear problems?
The role of hormone therapies in managing menopausal symptoms like night sweats, hot flashes, vaginal dryness, and sleep problems isn’t unknown.
There are mixed opinions about the effectiveness of hormone replacement therapy in improving hearing. One study conducted in 2018 showed that HRT helped menopausal women manage and prevent tinnitus.
Another 2017 study had a reverse opinion, though. It mentioned that postmenopausal women on hormone therapy were more susceptible to hearing loss. So, if planning for hormone therapy, it is better to discuss the boons and banes well with your doctor.
When to contact the doctor regarding menopause-related ear issues?
If you are of the menopausal age and have frequent ear issues, do not always pass it off as the play of hormones. If you have recurring ear problems, alongside other symptoms like dizziness, sore throat, and a feeling of sickness, you’ll have to consult the doctor immediately.
Hormone-related ear issues that you could go through in menopause can be managed with a bit of care from your end. Take good care of your diet, be vigilant of your physical health, and do not ignore any alarming symptoms. These are the prerequisites for sound ear health.
You should always be on the move. When you exercise regularly, it helps to improve most of the ENT issues pertaining to your ears, throat, and nose. However, avoid exercising with ear problems, especially if your balance is affected.