Illini Hearing - Champaign and Mahomet, IL

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

Most people just accept hearing loss as a part of growing old like gray hair or reading glasses. But a study from Duke-NUS Medical School shows a link between total health and hearing loss.

Communication problems, cognitive decline, and depression have a higher occurrence in older people with vision or hearing loss. That’s something you may already have read about. But did you realize that hearing loss is also linked to shorter life expectancy?

People who have untreated hearing loss, according to this study, might actually have a reduced lifespan. What’s more, they discovered that if untreated hearing loss happened with vision impairments it almost doubles the likelihood that they will have a tough time with activities necessary for day-to-day living. It’s both a physical problem and a quality of life problem.

This might sound bad but there’s a positive: hearing loss, for older adults, can be managed through a variety of methods. Even more importantly, getting tested can help expose major health issues and inspire you to take better care of yourself, which will increase your life expectancy.

What’s The Connection Between Hearing Loss And Poor Health?

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

Researchers at Johns Hopkins note that older adults with hearing loss had a tendency to have other issues, {such as} high rates of smoking, greater chance of heart disease, and stroke.

These results make sense when you understand more about the causes of hearing loss. Countless cases of tinnitus and hearing loss are tied to heart disease since high blood pressure affects the blood vessels in the ear canal. When you have shrunken blood vessels – which can be brought on by smoking – the body needs to work harder to push the blood through which results in high blood pressure. High blood pressure in older adults with hearing loss often causes them to hear a whooshing sound in their ears.

Hearing loss has also been connected to dementia, Alzheimer’s disease, and other forms of cognitive decline. Hearing specialists and other health professionals suspect there are numerous reasons why the two are connected: for starters, the brain needs to work harder to differentiate words in a conversation, which taps out the brain’s ability to do anything else. In other circumstances, difficulty communicating causes people who suffer from hearing loss to socialize less. There can be an extreme affect on a person’s mental health from social isolation leading to depression and anxiety.

How Hearing Loss Can be Managed by Older Adults

There are a number of options available to deal with hearing loss in older adults, but as the studies reveal, the smartest thing to do is address the problem as soon as you can before it has more serious repercussions.

Hearing aids are one kind of treatment that can be very effective in fighting your hearing loss. There are several different models of hearing aids available, including small, subtle models that are Bluetooth ready. Also, basic quality of life has been enhancing due to hearing aid technology. For example, they enable you to hear better during your entertainment by allowing you to connect to your phone, computer, or TV and they filter out background sound better than older models.

So that you can prevent further hearing loss, older adults can consult with their doctor or a nutritionist about positive dietary changes. There are links between iron deficiency anemia and hearing loss, for instance, which can often be treated by increasing the iron content in your diet. Changes to your diet could also positively impact other health conditions, resulting in an overall more healthy lifestyle.

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