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. 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 related to aging that are treatable, and in some cases, avoidable? Let’s have a look at some examples that may be surprising.
1. Diabetes can affect your hearing
So it’s fairly well recognized that diabetes is linked to a higher risk of hearing loss. But why would you have a higher risk of developing hearing loss if you have diabetes? Science is at somewhat of a loss 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 general health management could also be a consideration. 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 uncontrolled diabetes, in other words, people who aren’t managing their blood sugar or otherwise managing the disease, suffered worse consequences. If you are worried that you might be prediabetic or have undiagnosed diabetes, it’s important to speak to a doctor and get your blood sugar tested. By the same token, if you have difficulty hearing, it’s a good idea to contact us.
2. Danger of hearing loss associated falls goes up
Why would having difficulty hearing cause a fall? Even though our ears play an important role in helping us balance, there are other reasons why hearing loss might get you down (in this case, very literally). Individuals with hearing loss who have taken a fall were the subjects of a recent study. Though this study didn’t investigate what had caused 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. 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 stumble and fall. The good news here is that treating hearing loss could potentially decrease your danger of suffering a fall.
3. Treat high blood pressure to protect your hearing
Numerous studies have shown that hearing loss is connected to high blood pressure, and some have found that high blood pressure could actually accelerate age-related hearing loss. Clearly, this is not the kind of reassuring news that makes your blood pressure go down. Even when variables such as noise exposure or smoking are taken into consideration, the connection has persistently been found. (You should never smoke!) The only variable that makes a difference seems to be gender: If you’re a man, the connection between high blood pressure and hearing loss is even stronger.
Your ears have a close relation to your circulatory system. Two of your body’s primary arteries are positioned right near your ears and it contains many tiny blood vessels. This is one reason why individuals who have high blood pressure frequently experience tinnitus, the pulsing they’re hearing is actually their own blood pumping. That’s why this kind of tinnitus is called pulsatile tinnitus; you hear your pulse. The principal 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. That could possibly damage the smaller blood arteries in your ears. High blood pressure can be managed through both lifestyle changes and medical interventions. But if you think you’re experiencing hearing loss, even if you think you’re too young for the age-related stuff, it’s a good idea to consult with us.
4. Dementia and hearing loss
Even though a strong connection between mental decline and hearing loss has been well established, scientists are still not entirely sure what the link is. A prevalent idea is that having problems hearing can cause people to stay away from 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 overtime to process sound, there may not be much brainpower left for things like memory. Maintaining social ties and doing crosswords or “brain games” could help here, but so can managing hearing loss. If you’re able to hear well, social situations are easier to deal with, and you’ll be able to focus on the essential stuff instead of attempting to figure out what somebody just said.
Make an appointment with us as soon as possible if you suspect you may be experiencing hearing loss.