Cholesterol is an essential fatty substance that the body requires for various functions. However, an excess of bad cholesterol, or LDL, can lead to serious health issues like heart disease and stroke. Often termed a ‘silent killer,’ high cholesterol may not always exhibit visible symptoms, which makes it even more crucial to recognize the less obvious warning signs—one of which could manifest in your ears.
A surprising red flag for high cholesterol is hearing loss. This symptom may not be the first one that comes to mind, but ignoring it can have long-term consequences. According to medical experts, including those from the Journal of the American College of Cardiology, hearing loss associated with high cholesterol tends to develop gradually and often affects both ears.
This hearing impairment often starts with difficulty in hearing high-pitched sounds or following conversations in noisy environments. If left untreated, this impairment can escalate, impacting overall hearing capabilities. The New England Journal of Medicine states that early intervention can prevent further degradation of hearing and mitigate other potential health risks.
High cholesterol affects hearing by accumulating in the arteries, thereby narrowing them and impeding healthy blood flow. This compromised circulation to the intricate structures of the inner ear increases the risk of hearing loss. If you experience this symptom, immediate medical attention is necessary. Management of high cholesterol-induced hearing loss generally includes lifestyle changes and medication, as advised by healthcare professionals.
Certainly, diet plays an integral role in managing high cholesterol levels. Foods high in saturated fats, such as cakes, biscuits, meat pies, and sausages, should be on the top of your “do not eat” list. Fatty cuts of meat and full-fat dairy products are also high in saturated fats and cholesterol. Moreover, items containing coconut oil or palm oil may appear innocent but can have a significant impact on cholesterol levels.
On the flip side, incorporating foods that can lower bad cholesterol levels is equally important. Foods rich in soluble fiber like oats, barley, and legumes can help lower LDL cholesterol levels. Omega-3 fatty acids, found in fish like salmon and mackerel, can also lower bad cholesterol and are heart-healthy. Plant sterols, found in foods like almonds and Brussels sprouts, can reduce cholesterol absorption in the gut.
Apart from hearing loss, high cholesterol can also manifest through other symptoms like swelling on the knuckles, yellow lumps near the inner corners of your eyes, or a pale white ring around the iris. If you experience any of these symptoms, it is crucial to consult a medical professional for a comprehensive diagnosis and treatment plan.