Let’s face it, there’s no getting away from aging, and with it usually comes hearing loss. Sure, dyeing your hair might make you look younger, but it doesn’t actually change your age. But did you realize that hearing loss has also been linked to health issues related to aging that are treatable, and in some cases, avoidable? Here’s a look at some examples, #2 may surprise you.
1. Your hearing could be affected by diabetes
So it’s fairly well established that diabetes is associated with an increased danger of hearing loss. But why would diabetes put you at a higher risk of suffering from hearing loss? Well, science doesn’t provide all the solutions here. Diabetes has been known to harm the kidneys, eyes, and extremities. One idea is that the condition may impact the ears in a similar way, destroying blood vessels in the inner ear. But general health management may also be a consideration. A 2015 study that looked at U.S. military veterans highlighted the link between hearing loss and diabetes, but in particular, it found that those with unchecked diabetes, in other words, individuals who aren’t controlling their blood sugar or alternatively treating the disease, suffered worse outcomes. If you are concerned that you may be prediabetic or have overlooked diabetes, it’s important to speak to a doctor and have your blood sugar examined. And, it’s a good plan to get in touch with us if you think your hearing might be compromised.
2. Increased danger of falling associated with hearing loss
Why would having trouble hearing make you fall? Our sense of balance is, to some degree, managed by our ears. But there are other reasons why falls are more likely if you have loss of hearing. Research was conducted on individuals with hearing loss who have recently fallen. The study didn’t go into detail about the cause of the falls but it did conjecture that missing relevant sounds, like a car honking, could be a big part of the cause. But it could also go the other way, if difficulty hearing means you’re paying more attention to sounds than to your environment, it could be easy to trip and fall. The good news here is that treating hearing loss could potentially decrease your danger of suffering a fall.
3. Treat high blood pressure to safeguard your hearing
High blood pressure and hearing loss have been closely linked in some studies indicating that high blood pressure might speed up hearing loss due to aging. Clearly, this isn’t the kind of comforting news that makes your blood pressure drop. But it’s a link that’s been discovered pretty consistently, even when controlling for variables like noise exposure and whether you’re a smoker. (You should never smoke!) The only variable that is important appears to be gender: The connection between hearing loss and high blood pressure is even stronger if you’re a man.
Your ears have a close relation to your circulatory system. In addition to the many tiny blood vessels inside your ear, two of the body’s primary arteries go right by it. The noise that individuals hear when they have tinnitus is frequently their own blood pumping as a consequence of high blood pressure. That’s why this type of tinnitus is called pulsatile tinnitus; you hear your pulse. But high blood pressure could also potentially result in physical harm to your ears, that’s the primary theory as to why it would speed up hearing loss. If your heart is pumping harder, there’s more force behind each beat. That could potentially harm the smaller blood arteries inside of your ears. High blood pressure is manageable through both lifestyle improvements and medical treatments. But even if you don’t think you’re old enough for age-related hearing loss, if you’re having trouble hearing, you should call us for a hearing exam.
4. Dementia and hearing loss
Even though a powerful link between cognitive decline and hearing loss has been well established, scientists are still not completely certain what the connection is. The most prevalent concept is that people with untreated hearing loss tend to retreat from social interaction and become debilitated by lack of stimulation. The stress of hearing loss overloading the brain is another idea. In other words, because your brain is putting so much energy into comprehending the sounds around you, you might not have much energy left for remembering things like where you put your keys. Playing “brain games” and keeping your social life intact can be very helpful but the best thing you can do is treat your hearing loss. If you’re able to hear well, social situations are easier to deal with, and you’ll be able to focus on the important stuff instead of trying to figure out what someone just said.
Schedule an appointment with us right away if you think you may be experiencing hearing loss.