Let’s face it, there’s no getting away from aging, and with it often comes hearing loss. Sure, dyeing your hair might make you look younger, but it doesn’t actually 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? Let’s take a look at a few examples that might surprise you.
1. Your hearing could be affected by diabetes
The fact that hearing loss and diabetes have a connection is fairly well recognized. But why would diabetes give you an increased risk of developing hearing loss? Well, science doesn’t provide all the answers here. Diabetes is known to harm the kidneys, eyes, and extremities. Blood vessels in the inner ear might, theoretically, be getting destroyed in a similar way. But overall health management might also be a factor. A 2015 study revealed that individuals with overlooked diabetes had worse outcomes than individuals who were treating and managing their diabetes. If you are worried that you might be prediabetic or have undiagnosed diabetes, it’s essential to talk with a physician and get your blood sugar checked. By the same token, if you have difficulty hearing, it’s a good idea to contact us.
2. Increased danger 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 could get you down (in this instance, very literally). Research was conducted on participants with hearing loss who have recently fallen. The study didn’t detail the cause of the falls but it did speculate that missing essential sounds, like a car honking, could be a huge part of the cause. But it could 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. Luckily, your risk of having a fall is decreased by getting your hearing loss treated.
3. Protect your hearing by managing high blood pressure
Multiple studies have revealed that hearing loss is connected to high blood pressure, and some have discovered that high blood pressure may actually accelerate age-related hearing loss. Obviously, this isn’t the kind of reassuring news that makes your blood pressure drop. Even when variables such as noise exposure or smoking are taken into consideration, the link has persistently been seen. (Please don’t smoke.) The only variable that is important seems to be sex: If you’re a male, the link between high blood pressure and hearing loss is even stronger.
Your ears have a 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. This is one reason why people who have high blood pressure often suffer from tinnitus, the pulsing they’re hearing is actually their own blood pumping. That’s why this type of tinnitus is known as pulsatile tinnitus; you hear your pulse. But high blood pressure could also possibly result in physical damage to your ears, that’s the primary theory behind why it would accelerate hearing loss. If your heart is pumping harder, there’s more pressure behind each beat. That could potentially damage the smaller blood arteries inside of your ears. Through medical intervention and lifestyle improvement, it is possible to manage high blood pressure. But if you suspect 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
It’s scary stuff, but it’s important to mention that while the connection between hearing loss and cognitive decline has been well documented, scientists have been less productive at figuring out why the two are so strongly connected. A common theory is that having difficulty hearing can cause people to avoid social situations and that social withdrawal, and lack of cognitive stimulation, can be debilitating. Another theory is that hearing loss taxes your brain. When your brain is working extra hard to process sound, there may not be very much brainpower left for things like memory. Playing “brain games” and keeping your social life intact can be very helpful but the number one thing you can do is treat your hearing loss. Social engagements will be easier when you can hear clearly and instead of struggling 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.