Let’s face it, there’s no escape from aging, and with it often comes hearing loss. You can do some things to look younger but you’re still getting older. 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? Let’s take a look at some examples that may surprise you.
1. Diabetes could impact your hearing
The fact that hearing loss and diabetes have a connection is fairly well recognized. But why would diabetes give you a higher risk of suffering from hearing loss? Science is at somewhat of a loss here. Diabetes is connected to a wide variety of health problems, and in particular, can cause physical damage to the eyes, kidneys, and extremities. Blood vessels in the inner ear may, theoretically, be getting damaged in a similar way. But it could also be linked to overall health management. A 2015 study that looked at U.S. military veterans underscored the connection between hearing loss and diabetes, but specifically, it found that those with uncontrolled diabetes, in other words, people who are not controlling their blood sugar or alternatively treating the disease, suffered worse outcomes. If you are worried that you may be prediabetic or have overlooked diabetes, it’s essential to speak to a physician and have your blood sugar evaluated. And, it’s a good plan to contact us if you think your hearing might be compromised.
2. Risk of hearing loss related falls goes up
Why would your chance of falling go up if you have hearing loss? Even though our ears play an important part in helping us balance, there are other reasons why hearing loss might get you down (in this instance, very literally). A study was conducted on people who have hearing loss who have recently had a fall. The study didn’t go into detail about the cause of the falls but it did conjecture that missing significant sounds, such as a car honking, could be a large part of the cause. At the same time, if you’re struggling to concentrate on the sounds nearby, you may be distracted to your environment and that could also result in a higher danger of having a fall. The good news here is that managing hearing loss could potentially reduce your risk of suffering a fall.
3. Treat 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 speed up hearing loss related to aging. Clearly, this is not the sort of comforting news that makes your blood pressure go down. 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. (Please don’t smoke.) The only variable that makes a difference seems to be sex: If you’re a man, the link between high blood pressure and hearing loss is even stronger.
Your ears have a close relation to your circulatory system. Along with the many tiny blood vessels inside of your ear, two of the body’s principal arteries go right by it. The sound that people hear when they experience tinnitus is frequently their own blood pumping due to high blood pressure. That’s why this type of tinnitus is known as pulsatile tinnitus; you hear your pulse. But high blood pressure could also potentially result in physical harm to your ears, that’s the primary theory as to why it would speed up hearing loss. Every beat of your heart will have more force if it’s pumping blood harder. That could potentially damage the smaller blood arteries in your ears. 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 trouble hearing, you should contact us for a hearing test.
4. Cognitive decline and hearing loss
Even though a strong connection between mental decline and hearing loss has been well established, scientists are still not altogether sure what the link is. The most prevalent concept is that people with neglected hearing loss often withdraw from social interaction and become debilitated by lack of stimulation. Another concept is that hearing loss taxes your brain. 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 intact can be really helpful but the number one thing you can do is treat your hearing loss. If you’re able to hear clearly, social situations are easier to handle, and you’ll be able to focus on the essential stuff instead of attempting to figure out what somebody just said.
If you’re concerned that you may be experiencing hearing loss, schedule an appointment with us today.