Let’s face it, there’s no getting away from aging, and with it usually comes hearing loss. You can take some steps to look younger but you’re still aging. But did you know that hearing loss has also been linked to health problems related to aging that are treatable, and in some cases, avoidable? Here’s a look at some examples, #2 might surprise you.
1. Diabetes could affect your hearing
So it’s fairly well recognized that diabetes is associated with a higher danger of hearing loss. But why would you have an increased danger of experiencing hearing loss if you have diabetes? Science is at a bit of a loss here. Diabetes is connected to a wide variety of health problems, and specifically, can cause physical harm to the eyes, kidneys, and extremities. One idea is that the condition might impact the ears in a similar way, destroying blood vessels in the inner ear. But overall health management may also be a consideration. A 2015 study revealed that people with neglected diabetes had worse results than individuals who were treating and managing their diabetes. It’s important to get your blood sugar tested if you suspect you may have overlooked diabetes or are prediabetic. By the same token, if you have trouble hearing, it’s a good plan to reach out to us.
2. Danger of hearing loss related falls goes up
Why would your risk of falling go up if you have hearing loss? Although our ears play an important role in helping us balance, there are other reasons why hearing loss may get you down (in this case, very literally). Research was carried out on participants with hearing loss who have recently had a fall. Although this study didn’t delve into what had caused the subjects’ falls, the authors speculated that having difficulty hearing what’s around you (and missing crucial sounds like a car honking) could be one issue. But it could also go the other way, if difficulty hearing means you’re paying more attention to sounds than to your surroundings, it could be easy to stumble and fall. Luckily, your danger of having a fall is decreased by getting your hearing loss treated.
3. Protect your hearing by controlling high blood pressure
Several studies have revealed that hearing loss is connected to high blood pressure, and some have found that high blood pressure could actually speed up age-related hearing loss. Clearly, this is not the sort of reassuring news that makes your blood pressure go down. But it’s a connection that’s been discovered pretty consistently, even when controlling for variables such as noise exposure and whether you’re a smoker. (Please don’t smoke.) The only variable that makes a difference seems to be gender: The connection between hearing loss and high blood pressure is even stronger if you’re a man.
Your ears aren’t part of your circulatory system, but they’re really close to it. Two of your body’s principal arteries are positioned right near your ears and it contains many tiny blood vessels. The sound that individuals hear when they experience tinnitus is often their own blood pumping as a consequence of high blood pressure. That’s why this kind of tinnitus is known as pulsatile tinnitus; you hear your pulse. But high blood pressure could also potentially result in physical damage to your ears, that’s the main theory as to why it would accelerate hearing loss. Every beat of your heart will have more pressure if it’s pumping blood harder. That could potentially harm the smaller blood arteries in your ears. Through medical intervention and lifestyle improvement, 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 exam.
4. Hearing loss and cognitive decline
Even though a strong link between mental decline and hearing loss has been well established, scientists are still not entirely certain what the connection is. The most prevalent concept is that people with untreated hearing loss tend to withdraw from social interaction and become debilitated by lack of stimulation. Another concept is that hearing loss overloads your brain. In other words, because your brain is putting so much energy into understanding the sounds around you, you may not have much energy left for remembering things like where you put your keys. Playing “brain games” and keeping your social life active can be really helpful but the number one thing you can do is manage your hearing loss. Social engagements will be easier when you can hear clearly and instead of struggling to hear what people are saying, you can focus on the important stuff.
Schedule an appointment with us as soon as possible if you suspect you might be experiencing hearing loss.