Let’s face it, there’s no getting away from aging, and with it often 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 connected to health issues associated with aging that are treatable, and in some cases, avoidable? Let’s take a look at a few examples that might be surprising.
1. Diabetes can impact your hearing
So it’s fairly well established that diabetes is associated with an increased danger of hearing loss. But why would diabetes give you an increased risk of developing hearing loss? Science is at somewhat of a loss here. Diabetes has been known to harm the kidneys, eyes, and extremities. One idea is that the condition may affect the ears in a similar way, destroying blood vessels in the inner ear. But it could also be related to overall health management. A 2015 study discovered that people with neglected diabetes had worse results than people who were treating and managing their diabetes. It’s important to get your blood sugar checked if you believe you might have undiagnosed diabetes or are prediabetic. By the same token, if you have difficulty hearing, it’s a good plan to reach out to us.
2. Increased danger of falling associated with hearing loss
Why would your chance of falling increase if you have hearing loss? 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). Research was conducted on people who have hearing loss who have recently fallen. Though this study didn’t investigate what had caused the subjects’ falls, the authors suspected that having difficulty hearing what’s around you (and missing crucial sounds like a car honking) could be one problem. 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. Luckily, your danger of experiencing a fall is decreased by having your hearing loss treated.
3. Safeguard your hearing by controlling high blood pressure
Multiple studies have revealed that hearing loss is associated with high blood pressure, and some have discovered that high blood pressure could actually speed up age-related hearing loss. This kind of news might make you feel like your blood pressure is actually going up. But it’s a connection that’s been found pretty 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 gender: The link between hearing loss and high blood pressure is even stronger if you’re a man.
Your ears have a very close relation to your circulatory system. Two of your body’s main arteries run right near your ears and it contains many tiny blood vessels. This is one reason why people with high blood pressure frequently 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 known as 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 force if it’s pumping blood harder. That could possibly damage the smaller blood arteries in your ears. High blood pressure can be managed through both lifestyle modifications and medical treatments. 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 exam.
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 certain what the link is. The most widespread concept is that people with neglected hearing loss tend to retreat from social interaction and become debilitated by lack of stimulus. The stress of hearing loss overloading the brain is another theory. When your brain is working overtime to process sound, there may not be very much brainpower left for things like memory. Playing “brain games” and keeping your social life intact can be very helpful but the number one 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.
Make an appointment with us as soon as possible if you think you may be experiencing hearing loss.