Let’s face it, there’s no getting away from aging, and with it often comes hearing loss. Sure, dyeing your hair may make you look younger, but it doesn’t actually change your age. But did you know that hearing loss has also been linked to health issues related to aging that are treatable, and in some cases, preventable? Here’s a look at a few examples, #2 may come as a surprise.
1. Your hearing can be impacted by diabetes
The fact that hearing loss and diabetes have a connection is fairly well recognized. But why would diabetes put you at an increased risk of developing hearing loss? Well, science doesn’t provide all the solutions here. Diabetes has been known to damage the kidneys, eyes, and extremities. Blood vessels in the inner ear may, theoretically, be getting damaged in a similar way. But general health management may also be a factor. A 2015 study that looked at U.S. military veterans underscored the connection between hearing loss and diabetes, but specifically, it found that those with uncontrolled diabetes, in other words, individuals who are not managing their blood sugar or alternatively treating the disease, suffered worse outcomes. If you are worried that you may be prediabetic or have undiagnosed diabetes, it’s important to speak to a physician and have your blood sugar tested. By the same token, if you have difficulty hearing, it’s a good plan to reach out to us.
2. Risk of hearing loss associated falls increases
Why would having difficulty hearing cause a fall? Our sense of balance is, to some extent, regulated by our ears. But there are other reasons why falling is more likely if you have hearing loss. People with hearing loss who have taken a fall were the subjects of a recent study. Though this study didn’t delve into what had caused the subjects’ falls, the authors speculated that having trouble hearing what’s around you (and missing crucial sounds such as a car honking) could be one issue. At the same time, if you’re struggling to pay close attention to the sounds around you, you may be distracted to your environment and that could also lead to a higher risk of falling. The good news here is that managing hearing loss could potentially reduce your danger of having 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 may accelerate hearing loss related to aging. This sort of news may make you feel like your blood pressure is actually going up. Even when variables such as noise exposure or smoking are taken into consideration, the link has consistently been found. (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 male.
Your ears have a close relation to your circulatory system. Two of your body’s primary arteries are positioned right near your ears and it contains many tiny blood vessels. The sound that people hear when they have tinnitus is often their own blood pumping due to high blood pressure. When your tinnitus symptoms are caused by your own pulse, it’s called pulsatile tinnitus. The leading theory why high blood pressure can cause hearing loss is that it can actually cause physical damage to the vessels in the ears. Every beat of your heart will have more force if it’s pumping blood harder. The small arteries in your ears could potentially be harmed as a consequence. Through medical intervention and lifestyle change, blood pressure can be managed. But even if you don’t think you’re old enough for age-related hearing loss, if you’re having difficulty hearing, you should contact us for a hearing test.
4. Cognitive decline and hearing loss
Even though a powerful connection between mental decline and hearing loss has been well established, scientists are still not completely certain what the connection is. A prevalent theory is that having difficulty hearing can cause people to avoid social situations and that social withdrawal, and lack of mental stimulation, can be debilitating. The stress of hearing loss straining the brain is another idea. In other words, because your brain is putting so much energy into understanding the sounds around you, you might not have much energy left for remembering things like where you left your keys. Playing “brain games” and keeping your social life intact can be really helpful but the best thing you can do is treat your hearing loss. If you’re able to hear well, social scenarios are easier to handle, and you’ll be able to focus on the essential stuff instead of attempting to figure out what someone just said.
If you’re concerned that you may be suffering from hearing loss, make an appointment with us right away.