Aging is one of the most common indicators of hearing loss, and let’s face it, try as we might, we can’t avoid aging. You can take some steps to look younger but you’re still getting older. But did you know that hearing loss has also been connected to health issues associated with aging that are treatable, and in some cases, avoidable? Let’s have a look at a few examples that might be surprising.
1. Your hearing could be affected by diabetes
So it’s fairly well established that diabetes is linked to a higher danger of hearing loss. But why would you have a higher danger of experiencing hearing loss if you have diabetes? Well, science doesn’t provide all the answers here. Diabetes is linked to a wide range of health issues, and specifically, can cause physical damage to the eyes, kidneys, and extremities. Blood vessels in the inner ear might, theoretically, be getting damaged in a similar way. But general health management might also be a factor. A 2015 study that looked at U.S. military veterans highlighted the link between hearing loss and diabetes, but specifically, it found that those with unchecked diabetes, in other words, individuals who aren’t managing their blood sugar or alternatively treating the disease, suffered worse consequences. If you are concerned that you may be prediabetic or have overlooked diabetes, it’s essential to talk with a physician and get your blood sugar evaluated. By the same token, if you have trouble hearing, it’s a good idea to reach out to us.
2. Increased risk of falling associated with hearing loss
Why would having difficulty hearing make you fall? Even though our ears play an important role in helping us balance, there are other reasons why hearing loss could get you down (in this instance, very literally). A study was conducted on people with 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 crucial sounds, such as a car honking, could be a large 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 environment, it could be easy to trip and fall. The good news here is that treating hearing loss could potentially decrease your risk of suffering a fall.
3. Safeguard your hearing by treating high blood pressure
Several studies have shown that hearing loss is connected to high blood pressure, and some have found that high blood pressure may actually accelerate age-related hearing loss. Obviously, this is not the sort of reassuring news that makes your blood pressure drop. Even when variables such as noise exposure or smoking are taken into consideration, the connection has persistently been seen. (Please don’t smoke.) Gender appears to be the only important variable: If you’re a man, the link between high blood pressure and hearing loss is even stronger.
Your ears have a very close relation to your circulatory system. In addition to the many tiny blood vessels inside of your ear, two of the body’s primary arteries run right by it. This is one reason why people who have high blood pressure often suffer from tinnitus, the pulsing they’re hearing is actually their own blood pumping. When your tinnitus symptoms are caused by your own pulse, it’s called pulsatile tinnitus. But high blood pressure could also potentially result in physical damage to your ears, that’s the leading theory as to why it would speed up hearing loss. If your heart is pumping harder, there’s more pressure behind each beat. The little arteries in your ears could potentially be damaged as a consequence. Through medical intervention and lifestyle improvement, blood pressure can be managed. But even if you don’t think you’re old enough for age-related hearing loss, if you’re having difficulty hearing, you should contact us for a hearing exam.
4. Hearing loss and dementia
Even though a powerful connection between mental decline and hearing loss has been well established, scientists are still not entirely certain what the connection is. The most widespread theory is that people with neglected hearing loss tend to withdraw from social interaction and become debilitated by lack of stimulus. Another theory 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 energy left for remembering things like where you left your keys. Preserving social ties and doing crosswords or “brain games” could help here, but so can treating hearing loss. Social engagements 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.
Schedule an appointment with us as soon as possible if you think you might be experiencing hearing loss.