Let’s face it, there’s no getting away from aging, and with it often comes hearing loss. You can take some steps to look younger but you’re still aging. But did you realize that hearing loss has also been linked to health problems related to aging that are treatable, and in some instances, preventable? Here’s a look at a few examples, #2 might come as a surprise.
1. Diabetes can affect your hearing
So it’s pretty well established that diabetes is linked to an increased danger of hearing loss. But why would you have a higher danger of experiencing hearing loss if you have diabetes? Science is at a bit of a loss here. Diabetes is known to damage the kidneys, eyes, and extremities. Blood vessels in the inner ear may, theoretically, be getting destroyed in a similar way. But general health management might also be a consideration. A 2015 study discovered that individuals with overlooked diabetes had worse outcomes than people who were treating and managing their diabetes. If you are concerned that you might be prediabetic or have overlooked diabetes, it’s essential to talk with a doctor and get your blood sugar tested. And, it’s a good idea to contact us if you think your hearing might be compromised.
2. Danger of hearing loss related falls increases
Why would your chance of falling go up if you have hearing loss? Although our ears play an important part in helping us balance, there are other reasons why hearing loss could get you down (in this case, quite literally). Participants with hearing loss who have had a fall were the subjects of a recent study. The study didn’t go into detail about the cause of the falls but it did speculate that missing significant sounds, such as a car honking, could be a big 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 surroundings, it could be easy to trip and fall. The good news here is that treating hearing loss could potentially reduce your danger of suffering a fall.
3. Control high blood pressure to protect your hearing
High blood pressure and hearing loss have been closely linked in some studies indicating that high blood pressure might accelerate hearing loss related to the aging process. This kind of news may make you feel like your blood pressure is actually rising. But it’s a link that’s been found fairly consistently, even when controlling for variables like noise exposure and whether you’re a smoker. (You should never smoke!) Gender appears to be the only significant variable: 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 really close to it. Along with the many tiny blood vessels inside of your ear, two of the body’s primary arteries run right by it. The sound that people hear when they experience tinnitus is frequently their own blood pumping as a consequence of high blood pressure. When your tinnitus symptoms are due to your own pulse, it’s called pulsatile tinnitus. The principal theory why high blood pressure can bring about hearing loss is that it can actually do physical damage to the vessels in the ears. If your heart is pumping harder, there’s more force behind each beat. The little arteries in your ears could possibly be damaged as a consequence. Through medical treatment and lifestyle improvement, it is possible to manage high blood pressure. But even if you don’t think you’re old enough for age-related hearing loss, if you’re having trouble hearing, you should contact us for a hearing test.
4. Hearing loss and dementia
It’s scary stuff, but it’s important to note that while the connection between hearing loss and cognitive decline has been well documented, scientists have been less productive at sussing out why the two are so strongly connected. A common theory is that having difficulty hearing can cause people to stay away from social situations and that social withdrawal, and lack of mental stimulation, can be debilitating. Another theory is that hearing loss taxes your brain. 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 left your keys. Playing “brain games” and keeping your social life active can be really helpful but the best thing you can do is treat 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 essential stuff.
If you’re worried that you might be experiencing hearing loss, schedule an appointment with us right away.