Let’s face it, there’s no escape from aging, and with it often comes hearing loss. 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 problems related to aging that are treatable, and in some cases, preventable? Here’s a look at a few examples, #2 might come as a surprise.
1. Diabetes can affect your hearing
The fact that hearing loss and diabetes have a link is pretty well recognized. But why would you have a higher risk of developing hearing loss if you have diabetes? Science is at a bit of a loss here. Diabetes is known to harm the kidneys, eyes, and extremities. Blood vessels in the inner ear might, theoretically, be getting destroyed in a similar way. But it could also be linked to overall health management. A 2015 study found that individuals with neglected diabetes had worse results than people who were treating and managing their diabetes. If you are concerned that you may be prediabetic or have undiagnosed diabetes, it’s essential to speak to a physician and get your blood sugar evaluated. By the same token, if you have difficulty hearing, it’s a good idea to contact us.
2. Increased danger of falling associated with hearing loss
Why would having trouble hearing cause a fall? Our sense of balance is, to some extent, regulated by our ears. But there are other reasons why falling is more likely if you have hearing loss. People with hearing loss who have had a fall were the participants of a recent study. Though this study didn’t delve into what had caused the subjects’ falls, the authors suspected that having difficulty hearing what’s around you (and missing crucial sounds such as a car honking) could be one issue. But it could 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 trip and fall. The good news here is that treating hearing loss could potentially decrease your danger of suffering a fall.
3. Control high blood pressure to protect your hearing
Several studies have shown that hearing loss is connected to high blood pressure, and some have discovered that high blood pressure may actually accelerate age-related hearing loss. Clearly, this isn’t the kind of reassuring news that makes your blood pressure drop. But it’s a link 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 appears to be gender: The link between hearing loss and high blood pressure is even stronger if you’re a male.
Your ears aren’t part of your circulatory system, but they’re really close to it. Two of your body’s main arteries run right near your ears and it contains many tiny blood vessels. The noise that people hear when they experience tinnitus is frequently their own blood pumping as a consequence of 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 possibly result in physical damage to your ears, that’s the main theory as to why it would accelerate hearing loss. Every beat of your heart will have more pressure if it’s pumping blood harder. The small arteries in your ears could possibly be damaged as a result. Through medical treatment and lifestyle change, it is possible to manage high blood pressure. But even if you don’t think you’re old enough for age-related hearing loss, if you’re having difficulty hearing, you should give us a call for a hearing test.
4. Hearing loss and dementia
Even though a strong connection between cognitive decline and hearing loss has been well established, scientists are still not altogether sure what the connection is. The most prevalent concept is that people with untreated hearing loss often retreat from social interaction and become debilitated by lack of stimulus. The stress of hearing loss overloading the brain is another idea. In other words, because your brain is putting so much energy into understanding the sounds around you, you might not have much juice left for remembering things like where you put your keys. Maintaining social ties and doing crosswords or “brain games” could help here, but so can managing 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 important stuff.
If you’re worried that you may be suffering from hearing loss, make an appointment with us right away.