Aging is one of the most common indicators of hearing loss, and let’s face it, try as we may, we can’t avoid aging. Sure, coloring your hair may make you look younger, but it doesn’t really change your age. But did you realize that hearing loss has also been linked to health issues related to aging that are treatable, and in some instances, preventable? Here’s a look at a few examples, #2 may come as a surprise.
1. Diabetes could affect your hearing
So it’s pretty well established that diabetes is connected to a higher risk of hearing loss. But why would diabetes put you at an increased risk of experiencing hearing loss? Well, science doesn’t provide all the answers here. Diabetes is known to damage 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 factor. A 2015 study revealed that individuals with overlooked diabetes had worse outcomes than people who were treating and managing their diabetes. If you are concerned that you may be prediabetic or have undiagnosed diabetes, it’s essential to talk with a doctor and have your blood sugar tested. And, it’s a good plan to get in touch with us if you think your hearing might be compromised.
2. Increased danger of falling associated with hearing loss
Why would your risk of falling increase if you have hearing loss? Although our ears play an important role in helping us balance, there are other reasons why hearing loss could get you down (in this instance, very literally). People with hearing loss who have had a fall were the subjects of a recent study. The study didn’t detail the cause of the falls but it did speculate that missing crucial sounds, such as a car honking, could be a big part of the cause. But it might also go the other way, if difficulty hearing means you’re paying more attention to sounds than to your environment, it could be easy to trip and fall. The good news here is that managing hearing loss could potentially reduce your risk of having a fall.
3. Manage high blood pressure to safeguard your hearing
Several studies have revealed that hearing loss is connected to high blood pressure, and some have found that high blood pressure might actually accelerate age-related hearing loss. This sort of news may make you feel like your blood pressure is actually rising. But it’s a connection that’s been discovered fairly consistently, even when controlling for variables like noise exposure and whether you’re a smoker. (You should never smoke!) The only variable that is important appears to be sex: The link between hearing loss and high blood pressure is even stronger if you’re a male.
Your ears have a very close relation to your circulatory system. Along with the many tiny blood vessels inside your ear, two of the body’s principal arteries run right by it. The noise that people hear when they experience tinnitus is often their own blood pumping due to high blood pressure. When your tinnitus symptoms are the result of your own pulse, it’s called pulsatile tinnitus. The primary theory why high blood pressure can bring about hearing loss is that it can actually do physical damage to the vessels in the ears. Every beat of your heart will have more pressure if it’s pumping blood harder. The little arteries in your ears could potentially be harmed as a consequence. Through medical intervention and lifestyle change, 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 give us a call for a hearing test.
4. Hearing loss and cognitive decline
Even though a powerful connection between cognitive decline and hearing loss has been well established, scientists are still not completely sure what the connection is. A prevalent idea is that having trouble hearing can cause people to avoid social situations and that social detachment, and lack of cognitive stimulation, can be debilitating. Another theory is that hearing loss overloads your brain. In other words, because your brain is putting so much energy into comprehending the sounds around you, you might 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 beneficial, but so can managing 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 concerned that you might be experiencing hearing loss, make an appointment with us today.