Let’s face it, there’s no getting away from aging, and with it usually comes hearing loss. You can do some things to look younger but you’re still getting older. But did you know that hearing loss has also been linked to health issues associated with aging that are treatable, and in some cases, preventable? Here’s a look at a few examples, #2 might surprise you.
1. Diabetes could affect your hearing
So it’s fairly well recognized that diabetes is connected to a higher risk of hearing loss. But why would diabetes give you an increased risk of experiencing hearing loss? Science is at somewhat of a loss here. Diabetes is known to harm the kidneys, eyes, and extremities. Blood vessels in the inner ear may, theoretically, be getting destroyed in a similar way. But overall health management may also be a consideration. 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, people who aren’t managing their blood sugar or otherwise managing the disease, suffered worse outcomes. If you are worried that you may be prediabetic or have overlooked diabetes, it’s essential to speak to a doctor and have your blood sugar screened. And, it’s a good plan to call us if you think your hearing may be compromised.
2. Increased risk of falling associated with hearing loss
Why would your chance of falling go up if you have hearing loss? Even though our ears play an important role in helping us balance, there are other reasons why hearing loss may get you down (in this case, quite literally). People with hearing loss who have taken a fall were the subjects of a recent study. Although this study didn’t investigate what had caused the subjects’ falls, the authors speculated that having difficulty hearing what’s around you (and missing crucial sounds like a car honking) could be one problem. At the same time, if you’re struggling to concentrate on the sounds around you, you could be distracted to your environment and that could also lead to a higher danger of having a fall. Fortunately, your danger of experiencing a fall is decreased by having your hearing loss treated.
3. Protect your hearing by treating high blood pressure
Several studies have shown that hearing loss is linked to high blood pressure, and some have found that high blood pressure may actually speed up age-related hearing loss. This kind of news may 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.) Gender appears to be the only appreciable variable: The link between hearing loss and high blood pressure is even stronger if you’re a male.
Your ears aren’t a component of your circulatory system, but they’re really close to it. In addition to the many tiny blood vessels inside of your ear, two of the body’s principal arteries go right by it. This is one reason why individuals with high blood pressure often experience tinnitus, the pulsing they’re hearing is actually their own blood pumping. When your tinnitus symptoms are due to your own pulse, it’s called pulsatile tinnitus. The principal theory why high blood pressure can bring about hearing loss is that it can actually cause physical damage to the vessels in the ears. If your heart is pumping harder, there’s more pressure behind each beat. That could possibly damage the smaller blood arteries inside of your ears. Through medical treatment and lifestyle improvement, it is possible to manage high blood pressure. But if you think you’re dealing with hearing loss, even if you believe you’re not old enough for the age-related stuff, it’s a good move to talk to us.
4. Hearing loss and dementia
It’s scary stuff, but it’s important to note that while the link between hearing loss and cognitive decline has been well documented, scientists have been less productive at sussing out why the two are so strongly connected. A prevalent theory is that having trouble hearing can cause people to avoid social situations and that social withdrawal, and lack of cognitive stimulation, can be incapacitating. Another concept is that hearing loss overloads your brain. In other words, because your brain is putting so much energy into understanding the sounds around you, you may not have much energy left for remembering things like where you left your keys. Maintaining social ties and doing crosswords or “brain games” could be helpful, 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 essential stuff.
Make an appointment with us right away if you think you may be experiencing hearing loss.