Aging is one of the most typical indicators of hearing loss, and let’s face it, try as we might, we can’t escape aging. Sure, coloring your hair may make you look younger, but it doesn’t actually change your age. But did you know that hearing loss has also been linked to health problems associated with aging that are treatable, and in some cases, avoidable? Here’s a look at some examples, #2 may surprise you.
1. Diabetes can impact your hearing
So it’s fairly well recognized that diabetes is linked to a higher danger of hearing loss. But why would diabetes give you a higher risk of suffering from hearing loss? Science is at a bit of a loss here. Diabetes is linked to a wide variety of health issues, and in particular, can cause physical harm to the eyes, kidneys, and extremities. One idea is that the condition may impact the ears in a similar way, destroying blood vessels in the inner ear. But general health management might also be a consideration. A 2015 study that looked at U.S. military veterans highlighted the connection between hearing loss and diabetes, but in particular, it found that those with uncontrolled diabetes, in other words, individuals who aren’t managing their blood sugar or alternatively managing the disease, suffered worse outcomes. If you are worried that you may be prediabetic or have undiagnosed diabetes, it’s essential to talk with a physician and get your blood sugar examined. By the same token, if you have trouble hearing, it’s a good idea to contact us.
2. Increased risk of falling associated with hearing loss
Why would having difficulty hearing make you fall? 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 case, quite literally). People with hearing loss who have taken a fall were the participants of a recent study. Though this study didn’t delve into the cause of the subjects’ falls, the authors suspected that having trouble hearing what’s around you (and missing important sounds like 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. Luckily, your risk of having a fall is reduced by getting your hearing loss treated.
3. Manage high blood pressure to safeguard your hearing
Numerous studies have shown that hearing loss is linked to high blood pressure, and some have found that high blood pressure may actually hasten age-related hearing loss. This sort of news may make you feel like your blood pressure is actually going up. Even when variables like noise exposure or smoking are taken into account, the connection has consistently been found. (Please don’t smoke.) The only variable that is important seems to be gender: If you’re a male, the link between high blood pressure and hearing loss is even stronger.
Your ears have a close relation to your circulatory system. In addition to the many tiny blood vessels inside your ear, two of the body’s main arteries run right by it. This is one reason why people who have high blood pressure often suffer from tinnitus, the pulsing they’re hearing is actually their own blood pumping. That’s why this kind of tinnitus is called pulsatile tinnitus; you hear your pulse. 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. The small arteries in your ears could potentially be harmed as a consequence. High blood pressure is manageable through both lifestyle improvements and medical interventions. But if you suspect you’re dealing with hearing loss, even if you feel like you’re not old enough for the age-related stuff, it’s a good idea to consult with us.
4. Cognitive decline and hearing loss
It’s scary stuff, but it’s important to mention that while the link between hearing loss and cognitive decline has been well documented, scientists have been less successful at sussing out why the two are so powerfully connected. The most widespread theory is that people with neglected hearing loss often withdraw from social interaction and become debilitated by lack of stimulation. Another theory 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 might not have much energy left for remembering things like where you left your keys. Playing “brain games” and keeping your social life active can be very helpful but the number one thing you can do is manage your hearing loss. Social engagements will be easier when you can hear clearly and instead of battling to hear what people are saying, you can focus on the important stuff.
If you’re worried that you might be dealing with hearing loss, schedule an appointment with us today.