The Connection Between Hearing Loss And Life Expectancy

Woman improving her life expectancy by wearing hearing aids and working out is outside on a pier.

Just like graying hair and reading glasses, hearing loss is simply one of those things that most people accept as a part of growing old. But a study from Duke-NUS Medical School shows a link between overall health and hearing loss.

Senior citizens with hearing or vision loss frequently struggle more with depression, cognitive decline, and communication problems. That’s something you might already have read about. But did you realize that hearing loss is also linked to shorter life expectancy?

People with neglected hearing loss, according to this research, may actually have a shorter lifespan. And, the likelihood that they will have a hard time performing activities required for daily life just about doubles if the individual has both hearing and vision impairment. It’s a problem that is both a physical and a quality of life issue.

While this may sound like sad news, there is a positive spin: several ways that hearing loss can be managed. Even more importantly, getting tested can help uncover serious health issues and inspire you to pay more attention to staying healthy, which will increase your life expectancy.

Why is Hearing Loss Connected With Poor Health?

Research definitely reveals a connection but the exact cause and effect isn’t well understood.

Researchers at Johns Hopkins note that seniors with hearing loss tended to have other problems, {such as} high rates of smoking, greater chance of heart disease, and stroke.

These findings make sense when you understand more about the causes of hearing loss. Countless cases of hearing loss and tinnitus are tied to heart disease since the blood vessels in the ear canal are impacted by high blood pressure. When you have shrunken blood vessels – which can be caused by smoking – the body’s blood needs to push harder to keep the ears (and everything else) functioning which produces higher blood pressure. High blood pressure in older adults who have hearing loss often causes them to hear a whooshing sound in their ears.

Hearing loss has also been linked to Alzheimer’s disease, dementia, and other types of cognitive decline. Hearing specialists and other health care professionals suspect there are several reasons why the two are connected: for starters, the brain has to work overtime to differentiate words in a conversation, which taps out the brain’s ability to do anything else. In other circumstances, lots of people who have hearing loss tend to be less social, usually because of the difficulty they have communicating. There can be a serious impact on a person’s mental health from social separation leading to anxiety and depression.

How Older Adults Can Treat Hearing Loss

There are a few solutions available to treat hearing loss in older adults, but as the studies show, it is best to tackle these issues early before they affect your total health.

Hearing aids are one form of treatment that can work wonders in fighting your hearing loss. There are several different styles of hearing aids available, including small, discreet models that connect with Bluetooth technology. In addition, hearing aid technology has been improving basic quality-of-life challenges. For example, they block out background noise much better than older versions and can be connected to computers, cell phones, and TV’s to allow for better hearing during the entertainment.

In order to stop additional hearing loss, older adults can seek advice from their physician or a nutritionist about positive dietary changes. There are connections between iron deficiency anemia and hearing loss, for instance, which can usually be treated by adding more iron into your diet. An improved diet can help your other medical issues and help you have better overall health.

The site information is for educational and informational purposes only and does not constitute medical advice. To receive personalized advice or treatment, schedule an appointment.