Let’s face it, there’s no escape from aging, and with it usually 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 linked to health issues related to aging that are treatable, and in some cases, preventable? Here’s a look at some examples, #2 might come as a surprise.
1. Diabetes could affect your hearing
So it’s pretty well established that diabetes is associated with an increased danger of hearing loss. But why would you have a higher danger of experiencing hearing loss if you have diabetes? Well, science doesn’t have all the answers here. Diabetes has been known to harm 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 that looked at U.S. military veterans underscored the link between hearing loss and diabetes, but in particular, it found that those with unchecked diabetes, in other words, individuals who aren’t managing their blood sugar or otherwise managing the disease, suffered worse outcomes. If you are worried that you may be prediabetic or have overlooked diabetes, it’s important to talk with a physician and have your blood sugar screened. And, it’s a good plan to call us if you think your hearing may be compromised.
2. Risk of hearing loss related falls increases
Why would your chance of falling increase if you have hearing loss? Our sense of balance is, to some degree, managed by our ears. But there are other reasons why falls are more likely if you have loss of hearing. People with hearing loss who have had a fall were the subjects of a recent study. Although this study didn’t investigate 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 environment, it could be easy to stumble and fall. The good news here is that treating hearing loss could potentially reduce your danger of suffering a fall.
3. Manage high blood pressure to safeguard your hearing
Numerous studies have revealed that hearing loss is linked to high blood pressure, and some have discovered that high blood pressure may actually speed up age-related hearing loss. Clearly, this is not the kind of reassuring news that makes your blood pressure drop. Even when variables like noise exposure or smoking are taken into consideration, the connection has persistently been seen. (You should never 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 a component of your circulatory system, but they’re really close to it. Two of your body’s primary arteries are positioned right near your ears and it consists of many tiny blood vessels. This is one reason why individuals with high blood pressure frequently experience tinnitus, the pulsing they’re hearing is actually their own blood pumping. That’s why this kind of tinnitus is called pulsatile tinnitus; you hear your pulse. But high blood pressure could also potentially result in physical harm to your ears, that’s the leading theory behind why it would hasten hearing loss. If your heart is pumping harder, there’s more force behind each beat. That could potentially damage the smaller blood arteries in your ears. Through medical treatment and lifestyle improvement, it is possible to manage high blood pressure. But even if you don’t feel like you’re old enough for age-related hearing loss, if you’re having difficulty hearing, you should give us a call for a hearing test.
4. Cognitive decline and hearing loss
Even though a strong connection between cognitive decline and hearing loss has been well established, scientists are still not completely certain what the link is. A common idea is that having problems hearing can cause people to avoid social situations and that social detachment, 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 comprehending the sounds around you, you may 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 very 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 important stuff.
Schedule an appointment with us right away if you suspect you may be experiencing hearing loss.