Aging is one of the most typical indicators of hearing loss, and let’s face it, try as we might, we can’t escape aging. You can take some steps to look younger but you’re still getting older. But did you know that hearing loss has also been connected to health issues related to aging that are treatable, and in some instances, avoidable? Let’s take a look at a few examples that might surprise you.
1. Diabetes could impact your hearing
The fact that hearing loss and diabetes have a link is pretty well recognized. But why would you have an increased danger of developing hearing loss if you have diabetes? Science is at somewhat of a loss here. Diabetes is connected to a wide range of health problems, and specifically, can cause physical harm to the eyes, kidneys, and extremities. One theory is that the condition may impact the ears in a similar way, destroying blood vessels in the inner ear. But it could also be related to overall health management. A 2015 study that looked at U.S. military veterans highlighted the link between hearing loss and diabetes, but in particular, it found that those with unchecked diabetes, in other words, individuals who aren’t controlling their blood sugar or otherwise treating the disease, suffered worse consequences. If you are concerned that you might be prediabetic or have overlooked diabetes, it’s essential to talk with a doctor and get your blood sugar screened. And, it’s a good plan to get in touch with us if you think your hearing may be compromised.
2. Increased risk of falling associated with hearing loss
Why would having trouble hearing make you fall? Although our ears play an important part in helping us balance, there are other reasons why hearing loss may get you down (in this case, very literally). A study was carried out on people who have hearing loss who have recently fallen. Though this study didn’t explore the cause of the subjects’ falls, the authors speculated that having trouble hearing what’s around you (and missing important sounds like a car honking) could be one problem. At the same time, if you’re working hard to concentrate on the sounds nearby, you could be distracted to your environment and that might also lead to a higher danger of falling. Luckily, your risk of having a fall is decreased by having your hearing loss treated.
3. Treat high blood pressure to protect your hearing
High blood pressure and hearing loss have been closely linked in some studies indicating that high blood pressure might speed up hearing loss due to the aging process. This kind of news may make you feel like your blood pressure is actually rising. But it’s a link that’s been found fairly consistently, even when controlling for variables like noise exposure and whether you’re a smoker. (You should never smoke!) Gender seems to be the only appreciable variable: 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. Along with the many tiny blood vessels inside your ear, two of the body’s primary arteries go right by it. This is one reason why individuals with high blood pressure often suffer from tinnitus, the pulsing they’re hearing is actually their own blood pumping. When your tinnitus symptoms are the result of your own pulse, it’s known as pulsatile tinnitus. The leading theory why high blood pressure can lead to hearing loss is that it can actually do 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 damaged as a consequence. Through medical intervention and lifestyle improvement, blood pressure can be managed. But if you think you’re dealing with hearing loss, even if you believe you’re too young for the age-related stuff, it’s a good idea to consult with us.
4. Cognitive decline and hearing loss
Even though a powerful link between mental decline and hearing loss has been well established, scientists are still not completely sure what the connection is. The most prevalent theory is that people with untreated hearing loss tend to retreat from social interaction and become debilitated by lack of stimulation. The stress of hearing loss straining 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. Playing “brain games” and keeping your social life intact can be very helpful but the best thing you can do is treat your 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 as soon as possible if you suspect you may be experiencing hearing loss.