Aging is one of the most common indicators of hearing loss, and let’s face it, try as we may, we can’t avoid aging. You can do some things to look younger but you’re still getting older. 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 some examples, #2 might surprise you.
1. Diabetes could affect your hearing
The fact that hearing loss and diabetes have a link is pretty well understood. But why would diabetes put you at a higher risk of experiencing hearing loss? Science is at somewhat of a loss here. Diabetes has been known to damage the kidneys, eyes, and extremities. One idea is that the condition may impact the ears in a similar way, damaging blood vessels in the inner ear. But it could also be connected to general health management. A 2015 study discovered that people with neglected diabetes had worse results than individuals who were treating and managing their diabetes. If you are concerned that you may be prediabetic or have undiagnosed diabetes, it’s important to speak to a physician and get your blood sugar tested. By the same token, if you have trouble hearing, it’s a good plan to contact us.
2. Risk of hearing loss related falls increases
Why would having a hard time hearing make you fall? Our sense of balance is, to some degree, regulated by our ears. But there are other reasons why falling is more likely if you have hearing loss. Research was conducted on people 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 important sounds, such as a car honking, could be a huge part of the cause. But it might 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 stumble and fall. Fortunately, your risk of having a fall is reduced by having your hearing loss treated.
3. Safeguard your hearing by managing high blood pressure
Numerous studies have shown that hearing loss is connected to high blood pressure, and some have found that high blood pressure could actually hasten age-related hearing loss. Clearly, this is not the kind of reassuring news that makes your blood pressure drop. But it’s a connection that’s been discovered rather consistently, even when controlling for variables like noise exposure and whether you’re a smoker. (You should never smoke!) The only variable that makes a difference seems to be gender: If you’re a male, the connection between high blood pressure and hearing loss is even stronger.
Your ears aren’t a component of your circulatory system, but they’re darn close to it. Along with the many tiny blood vessels inside of your ear, two of the body’s main arteries go right by it. This is one reason why individuals with high blood pressure frequently suffer from tinnitus, the pulsing they’re hearing is actually their own blood pumping. That’s why this type of tinnitus is called pulsatile tinnitus; you hear your pulse. The leading theory why high blood pressure can lead to hearing loss is that it can actually do physical harm to the vessels in the ears. If your heart is pumping harder, there’s more pressure behind each beat. The little arteries in your ears could potentially be damaged as a consequence. High blood pressure can be managed through both lifestyle modifications and medical treatments. But even if you don’t think you’re old enough for age-related hearing loss, if you’re having difficulty hearing, you should give us a call for a hearing exam.
4. Hearing loss and cognitive decline
It’s scary stuff, but it’s significant to note that while the connection between hearing loss and cognitive decline has been well documented, scientists have been less successful at sussing out why the two are so powerfully connected. A prevalent theory is that having problems hearing can cause people to stay away from 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 juice left for remembering things like where you put your keys. Playing “brain games” and keeping your social life intact can be really helpful but the number one thing you can do is manage your hearing loss. If you’re able to hear well, social situations are easier to handle, and you’ll be able to focus on the essential stuff instead of trying to figure out what someone just said.
Schedule an appointment with us as soon as possible if you think you might be experiencing hearing loss.