Woman improving her life expectancy by wearing hearing aids and working out is outside on a pier.

Just like graying hair and reading glasses, hearing loss is simply one of those things that many people accept as a part of the aging process. But a study from Duke-NUS Medical School reveals a connection between hearing loss and total health in older adults.

Communication troubles, depression, and cognitive decline have a higher occurrence in senior citizens with vision or hearing loss. That’s something you may have already read about. But one thing you might not be aware of is that life expectancy can also be affected by hearing loss.

People with untreated hearing loss, according to this study, might actually have a reduced lifespan. What’s more, they found that if untreated hearing loss occurred with vision impairments it just about doubles the likelihood that they will have a tough time with tasks necessary for daily living. It’s an issue that is both a physical and a quality of life concern.

This may sound bad but there’s a positive: hearing loss, for older adults, can be treated through a variety of means. Even more importantly, having a hearing exam can help uncover major health concerns and spark you to take better care of yourself, which will increase your life expectancy.

What’s The Link Between Hearing Loss And Poor Health?

Research definitely shows a connection but the specific cause and effect isn’t perfectly known.

Researchers at Johns Hopkins note that other problems including greater risk of stroke and heart disease were seen in older people who had hearing loss.

When you understand what the causes of hearing loss are, these results make more sense. Many cases of hearing loss and tinnitus are tied to heart disease since high blood pressure affects the blood vessels in the ear canal. When you have shrunken blood vessels – which can be caused by smoking – the body needs to work harder to push the blood through which results in high blood pressure. Older adults with heart troubles and hearing loss commonly experience a whooshing sound in their ears, which can be caused by high blood pressure.

Hearing loss has also been linked to dementia, Alzheimer’s disease, and other types of cognitive decline. There are a number of reasons for the two to be connected according to health professionals and hearing specialists: for one, the brain needs to work harder to differentiate words in a conversation, which allows less mental ability to actually process the words or do anything else. In other circumstances, difficulty communicating causes people with hearing loss to be less social. This social isolation leads to anxiety and depression, which can have a severe impact on a person’s mental health.

How Older Adults Can Manage Hearing Loss

There are several solutions available to manage hearing loss in older adults, but as is shown by research, it is best to deal with these issues early before they affect your general health.

Hearing aids are one kind of treatment that can be very effective in dealing with your hearing loss. There are numerous different models of hearing aids available, including small, subtle models that are Bluetooth ready. Also, basic quality of life has been enhancing as a result of hearing aid technology. For example, they block out background noise a lot better than older models and can be connected to computers, cell phones, and TV’s to let you hear better during the entertainment.

Older adults can also go to a nutritionist or talk to their physician about changes to their diet to help counter additional hearing loss. There are links between iron deficiency anemia and hearing loss, for example, which can frequently be treated by increasing the iron content in your diet. An improved diet can help your other medical conditions and help you have better overall health.

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