Let’s face it, there’s no escape from aging, and with it usually comes hearing loss. You can do some things to look younger but you’re still aging. But did you realize that hearing loss has also been linked to health issues associated with aging that are treatable, and in some cases, preventable? Here’s a look at some examples, #2 might surprise you.
1. Your hearing could be affected by diabetes
The fact that hearing loss and diabetes have a link is pretty well recognized. But why would diabetes give you an increased risk of experiencing hearing loss? Science is at somewhat of a loss here. Diabetes is linked to a wide range of health problems, and specifically, can cause physical damage to the eyes, kidneys, 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 that looked at U.S. military veterans highlighted the link between hearing loss and diabetes, but specifically, it found that those with uncontrolled diabetes, in other words, people who aren’t controlling their blood sugar or otherwise treating the disease, suffered worse outcomes. It’s important to get your blood sugar tested if you think you may have undiagnosed diabetes or are prediabetic. And, it’s a good plan to contact us if you think your hearing might be compromised.
2. Increased risk of falling associated with hearing loss
Why would having trouble hearing cause a fall? Our sense of balance is, to some degree, regulated by our ears. But there are other reasons why falls are more likely if you have hearing loss. Participants with hearing loss who have had a fall were the participants of a recent study. Although this study didn’t delve into the cause of the subjects’ falls, the authors suspected that having difficulty hearing what’s around you (and missing important sounds such as a car honking) could be one issue. But it might 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. The good news here is that treating hearing loss could potentially decrease your danger of having a fall.
3. Treat high blood pressure to safeguard your hearing
Multiple studies have revealed that hearing loss is associated with high blood pressure, and some have discovered that high blood pressure may actually hasten age-related hearing loss. Obviously, this isn’t the sort of reassuring news that makes your blood pressure go down. Even when variables such as noise exposure or smoking are taken into account, the connection has consistently been seen. (Please don’t smoke.) The only variable that makes a difference seems to be gender: The connection between hearing loss and high blood pressure is even stronger if you’re a man.
Your ears have a very close relation to your circulatory system. In addition to the many tiny blood vessels inside your ear, two of the body’s main arteries go right by it. The sound that people hear when they experience tinnitus is frequently their own blood pumping as a consequence of high blood pressure. When your tinnitus symptoms are caused by your own pulse, it’s called pulsatile tinnitus. The principal theory why high blood pressure can lead to hearing loss is that it can actually cause physical damage to the vessels in the ears. Every beat of your heart will have more force if it’s pumping blood harder. The small arteries in your ears could potentially be harmed as a consequence. High blood pressure is manageable through both lifestyle improvements and medical treatments. But even if you don’t feel like you’re old enough for age-related hearing loss, if you’re having difficulty hearing, you should call us for a hearing exam.
4. Cognitive decline and hearing loss
It’s scary stuff, but it’s significant to note that while the connection between hearing loss and cognitive decline has been well recognized, scientists have been less productive at figuring out why the two are so powerfully linked. A prevalent idea is that having difficulty hearing can cause people to avoid social situations and that social detachment, and lack of cognitive stimulation, can be incapacitating. The stress of hearing loss overloading the brain is another idea. When your brain is working extra hard to process sound, there might not be much brainpower left for things like memory. 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 struggling to hear what people are saying, you can focus on the essential stuff.
If you’re concerned that you might be dealing with hearing loss, schedule an appointment with us today.