Aging is one of the most prevalent indicators of hearing loss, and let’s face it, try as we may, we can’t avoid aging. Sure, dyeing your hair might make you look younger, but it doesn’t really change your age. But did you realize that hearing loss has also been connected to health problems associated with aging that are treatable, and in some cases, avoidable? Let’s have a look at a few examples that might be surprising.
1. Your hearing can be impacted by diabetes
So it’s pretty well established that diabetes is connected to a higher risk 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 has been known to damage the kidneys, eyes, and extremities. One idea is that the condition might impact the ears in a similar way, destroying blood vessels in the inner ear. But it could also be linked to overall health management. A 2015 study that looked at U.S. military veterans highlighted the connection between hearing loss and diabetes, but specifically, 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 consequences. If you are concerned that you may be prediabetic or have undiagnosed diabetes, it’s important to speak to a doctor and have your blood sugar evaluated. And, it’s a good idea to contact us if you think your hearing might be compromised.
2. Increased risk of falling associated with hearing loss
Why would having difficulty hearing make you fall? Our sense of balance is, to some extent, regulated by our ears. But there are other reasons why falls are more likely if you have loss of hearing. Participants 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 speculated that having trouble hearing what’s around you (and missing important sounds such as a car honking) could be one problem. At the same time, if you’re struggling to concentrate on the sounds nearby, you may be distracted to your environment and that might also result in a higher risk of falling. Fortunately, your danger of experiencing a fall is reduced by having your hearing loss treated.
3. Control high blood pressure to safeguard your hearing
Multiple studies have shown that hearing loss is associated with high blood pressure, and some have discovered that high blood pressure might actually accelerate age-related hearing loss. Obviously, this is not the sort of reassuring news that makes your blood pressure drop. Even when variables such as noise exposure or smoking are taken into account, the connection has consistently been seen. (Please don’t smoke.) Gender appears to be the only significant variable: The connection between hearing loss and high blood pressure is even stronger if you’re a man.
Your ears have a close relation to your circulatory system. In addition to the many tiny blood vessels inside of your ear, two of the body’s principal arteries go right by it. The noise that individuals hear when they have tinnitus is often their own blood pumping as a consequence of high blood pressure. That’s why this kind 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 main theory as to why it would accelerate hearing loss. If your heart is pumping harder, there’s more force behind each beat. That could possibly harm the smaller blood arteries inside of your ears. Through medical intervention and lifestyle improvement, 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 call us for a hearing exam.
4. Hearing loss and cognitive decline
It’s scary stuff, but it’s important to mention that while the link between hearing loss and cognitive decline has been well recognized, scientists have been less productive at figuring out why the two are so strongly connected. The most prevalent concept is that people with untreated hearing loss tend to retreat from social interaction and become debilitated by lack of stimulation. Another theory is that hearing loss overloads your brain. When your brain is working extra hard to process sound, there might not be very much brainpower left for things like memory. Playing “brain games” and keeping your social life intact can be really helpful but the number one thing you can do is manage your hearing loss. If you’re able to hear well, social scenarios are easier to deal with, and you’ll be able to focus on the important stuff instead of attempting to figure out what somebody just said.
Schedule an appointment with us right away if you think you may be experiencing hearing loss.