Let’s face it, there’s no getting away from aging, and with it often comes hearing loss. Sure, coloring your hair may make you look younger, but it doesn’t actually change your age. But did you realize that hearing loss has also been connected to health issues associated with aging that are treatable, and in some instances, avoidable? Let’s have a look at some examples that may surprise you.
1. Diabetes can affect your hearing
So it’s pretty well established that diabetes is linked to a higher danger of hearing loss. But why would you have an increased risk of experiencing hearing loss if you have diabetes? Science is at somewhat of a loss here. Diabetes is 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 it could also be linked to general health management. A 2015 study revealed that individuals with overlooked diabetes had worse results than people who were treating and managing their diabetes. It’s important to get your blood sugar tested if you think you might have undiagnosed diabetes or are prediabetic. And, it’s a good plan to call us if you think your hearing might be compromised.
2. Danger of hearing loss related falls goes up
Why would having trouble hearing cause a fall? Our sense of balance is, to some extent, regulated by our ears. But there are other reasons why falls are more likely if you have loss of hearing. Research was carried out on people with hearing loss who have recently had a fall. Though this study didn’t investigate what had caused the subjects’ falls, the authors suspected that having trouble hearing what’s around you (and missing important sounds such as a car honking) could be one issue. At the same time, if you’re working hard to concentrate on the sounds nearby, you may be distracted to your environment and that might also lead to a higher danger of having a fall. The good news here is that treating hearing loss could potentially decrease your risk of having a fall.
3. Manage high blood pressure to safeguard your hearing
Numerous studies have shown that hearing loss is associated with high blood pressure, and some have discovered that high blood pressure could actually accelerate age-related hearing loss. This kind 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 account, the link has persistently been seen. (You should never smoke!) Gender appears to be the only significant variable: 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. In addition to the many tiny blood vessels inside your ear, two of the body’s main arteries go right by it. This is one reason why people with high blood pressure often 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 possibly be damaged as a consequence. High blood pressure can be managed 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 difficulty hearing, you should give us a call for a hearing exam.
4. Hearing loss and dementia
It’s scary stuff, but it’s important to note that while the link between hearing loss and cognitive decline has been well recognized, scientists have been less successful at sussing out why the two are so powerfully connected. The most prevalent theory is that people with neglected hearing loss tend to retreat from social interaction and become debilitated by lack of stimulus. Another theory is that hearing loss overloads your brain. 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. Maintaining social ties and doing crosswords or “brain games” could help here, but so can treating hearing loss. Social situations will be easier when you can hear clearly and instead of battling to hear what people are saying, you can focus on the essential stuff.
If you’re concerned that you may be dealing with hearing loss, schedule an appointment with us today.