Let’s face it, there’s no escape from aging, and with it often comes hearing loss. Sure, coloring your hair may make you look younger, but it doesn’t really change your age. But did you know that hearing loss has also been connected to health issues associated with aging that are treatable, and in some instances, preventable? Here’s a look at some examples, #2 might surprise you.
1. Diabetes can affect your hearing
The fact that hearing loss and diabetes have a link is fairly well understood. But why would you have a higher danger of developing hearing loss if you have diabetes? Science is at a bit of a loss here. Diabetes has been known to damage the kidneys, eyes, and extremities. One idea is that the condition may impact the ears in a similar way, damaging blood vessels in the inner ear. But it could also be linked to general health management. A 2015 study that looked at U.S. military veterans underscored the connection between hearing loss and diabetes, but specifically, it found that those with unchecked diabetes, in other words, individuals who aren’t controlling their blood sugar or alternatively treating the disease, suffered worse outcomes. It’s important to get your blood sugar checked if you believe you may have overlooked diabetes or are prediabetic. By the same token, if you have difficulty hearing, it’s a good idea to contact us.
2. Increased risk of falling associated with hearing loss
Why would having difficulty hearing cause a fall? Our sense of balance is, to some degree, regulated by our ears. But there are other reasons why falls are more likely if you have hearing loss. Research was conducted on participants 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 significant sounds, like a car honking, could be a large part of the cause. At the same time, if you’re working hard to concentrate on the sounds nearby, you could be distracted to your environment and that could also result in a higher chance of falling. The good news here is that managing hearing loss could potentially reduce your danger of suffering a fall.
3. Manage 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 may accelerate hearing loss related to the aging process. This sort of news might make you feel like your blood pressure is actually going up. But it’s a link that’s been found fairly consistently, even when controlling for variables like noise exposure and whether you’re a smoker. (Please don’t smoke.) The only variable that is important 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 a component of your circulatory system, but they’re darn close to it. Along with the many tiny blood vessels inside of your ear, two of the body’s primary arteries run 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. That’s why this type of tinnitus is called pulsatile tinnitus; you hear your pulse. But high blood pressure could also possibly result in physical harm to your ears, that’s the leading theory behind why it would speed up hearing loss. Every beat of your heart will have more pressure if it’s pumping blood harder. The small arteries in your ears could potentially be harmed as a consequence. Through medical intervention and lifestyle improvement, blood pressure can be managed. But even if you don’t think you’re old enough for age-related hearing loss, if you’re having trouble hearing, you should contact us for a hearing test.
4. Hearing loss and dementia
Even though a powerful link between mental decline and hearing loss has been well established, scientists are still not entirely certain what the link is. The most prevalent theory is that people with neglected hearing loss tend to withdraw from social interaction and become debilitated by lack of stimulation. Another theory is that hearing loss taxes your brain. When your brain is working extra hard to process sound, there might not be very much brainpower left for things like memory. Preserving social ties and doing crosswords or “brain games” could help here, but so can treating hearing loss. Social situations will be easier when you can hear clearly and instead of battling to hear what people are saying, you can focus on the essential stuff.
If you’re concerned that you might be experiencing hearing loss, make an appointment with us right away.