Aging is one of the most typical indicators of hearing loss, and let’s face it, try as we might, we can’t avoid aging. Sure, coloring 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 linked to health issues related to aging that are treatable, and in some cases, preventable? Here’s a look at some examples, #2 might surprise you.
1. Diabetes can affect your hearing
So it’s fairly well established that diabetes is associated with an increased danger of hearing loss. But why would you have a higher danger of experiencing hearing loss if you have diabetes? Well, science doesn’t have all the solutions here. Diabetes has been known to damage the kidneys, eyes, and extremities. Blood vessels in the inner ear might, theoretically, be getting damaged in a similar way. But overall health management might also be a consideration. A 2015 study that looked at U.S. military veterans underscored the connection between hearing loss and diabetes, but in particular, it found that those with unchecked diabetes, in other words, people who are not controlling their blood sugar or otherwise 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 doctor and have your blood sugar tested. And, it’s a good idea to contact us if you think your hearing might be compromised.
2. Increased danger of falling associated with hearing loss
Why would having trouble hearing make you fall? Our sense of balance is, to some degree, regulated by our ears. But there are other reasons why falling is more likely if you have loss of hearing. People with hearing loss who have taken a fall were the subjects of a recent study. Though this study didn’t explore the cause of the subjects’ falls, the authors suspected that having difficulty hearing what’s around you (and missing crucial sounds such as a car honking) could be one issue. 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 lead to a higher danger of having a fall. Luckily, your danger of having a fall is reduced by getting your hearing loss treated.
3. Treat high blood pressure to protect your hearing
Several studies have revealed that hearing loss is connected to high blood pressure, and some have found that high blood pressure may 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 link that’s been found pretty consistently, even when controlling for variables such as noise exposure and whether you’re a smoker. (You should never smoke!) The only variable that makes a difference appears to be sex: If you’re a male, the connection between high blood pressure and hearing loss is even stronger.
Your ears aren’t a component of your circulatory system, but they’re really close to it. Two of your body’s principal arteries run right by your ears and it contains many tiny blood vessels. The noise that people hear when they have 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 known as pulsatile tinnitus. But high blood pressure could also potentially result in physical damage to your ears, that’s the primary theory as to why it would hasten hearing loss. Every beat of your heart will have more pressure if it’s pumping blood harder. That could possibly harm the smaller blood arteries inside of your ears. High blood pressure is manageable through both lifestyle changes and medical interventions. But if you think you’re experiencing hearing loss, even if you feel like you’re not old enough for the age-related stuff, it’s a good move to consult with us.
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 documented, scientists have been less successful at figuring out why the two are so strongly linked. The most prevalent concept is that people with neglected hearing loss often retreat from social interaction and become debilitated by lack of stimulus. 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 may not have much energy left for remembering things like where you put your keys. Preserving social ties and doing crosswords or “brain games” could be helpful, but so can managing 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 important stuff.
Make an appointment with us right away if you think you may be experiencing hearing loss.