Aging is one of the most common indicators of hearing loss, and let’s face it, try as we may, we can’t escape aging. You can take some steps 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 a few examples that might be surprising.
1. Diabetes could impact your hearing
The fact that hearing loss and diabetes have a connection is fairly well established. But why would you have a higher danger of experiencing hearing loss if you have diabetes? Science is at somewhat of a loss here. Diabetes is linked to a wide variety of health problems, and in particular, can cause physical damage to the eyes, kidneys, and extremities. One theory is that the condition might affect the ears in a similar way, damaging blood vessels in the inner ear. But overall health management might also be a factor. A 2015 study that looked at U.S. military veterans underscored the connection between hearing loss and diabetes, but in particular, it found that those with uncontrolled diabetes, in other words, individuals who are not controlling their blood sugar or otherwise managing the disease, suffered worse outcomes. It’s important to get your blood sugar checked if you believe you may have undiagnosed diabetes or are prediabetic. And, it’s a good idea to get in touch with us if you think your hearing may be compromised.
2. Risk of hearing loss related falls goes up
Why would your chance of falling go up if you have hearing loss? Our sense of balance is, to some extent, managed by our ears. But there are other reasons why falls are more likely if you have hearing loss. A study was carried out on individuals 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 speculate that missing relevant 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 surroundings, it could be easy to stumble and 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 safeguard your hearing
High blood pressure and hearing loss have been closely linked in some studies indicating that high blood pressure might accelerate hearing loss due to the aging process. Obviously, this is not the kind of comforting news that makes your blood pressure drop. Even when variables such as noise exposure or smoking are taken into consideration, the connection has consistently been seen. (You should never smoke!) Gender seems to be the only important variable: If you’re a male, the connection between high blood pressure and hearing loss is even stronger.
Your ears have a close relation to your circulatory system. Two of your body’s main arteries run right by your ears and it consists of many tiny blood vessels. The noise that individuals hear when they experience tinnitus is frequently their own blood pumping due to high blood pressure. When your tinnitus symptoms are the result of your own pulse, it’s called pulsatile tinnitus. The primary theory why high blood pressure can cause hearing loss is that it can actually do physical harm to the vessels in the ears. Every beat of your heart will have more pressure if it’s pumping blood harder. That could possibly harm the smaller blood arteries in your ears. Through medical treatment and lifestyle improvement, blood pressure can be managed. But if you think you’re dealing with hearing loss, even if you feel like you’re not old enough for the age-related stuff, it’s a good move to speak with us.
4. Cognitive decline and hearing loss
Even though a powerful link between mental decline and hearing loss has been well established, scientists are still not entirely certain what the connection is. A prevalent idea is that having problems hearing can cause people to avoid social situations and that social withdrawal, and lack of cognitive stimulation, can be debilitating. Another concept is that hearing loss taxes your brain. When your brain is working extra hard to process sound, there may not be very much brainpower left for things like memory. Preserving social ties and doing crosswords or “brain games” could be helpful, but so can managing 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.
Make an appointment with us as soon as possible if you think you may be experiencing hearing loss.