Aging is one of the most prevalent indicators of hearing loss, and let’s face it, try as we may, we can’t escape aging. Sure, dyeing your hair might make you look younger, but it doesn’t really change your age. But did you know that hearing loss has also been linked to health problems associated with aging that are treatable, and in some cases, preventable? Let’s have a look at some examples that may be surprising.
1. Your hearing could be affected by diabetes
So it’s pretty well established that diabetes is associated with a higher danger of hearing loss. But why would diabetes put you at an increased risk of developing hearing loss? Science is at somewhat of a loss here. Diabetes is linked to a wide variety of health issues, and specifically, can cause physical harm to the eyes, kidneys, and extremities. One theory is that the condition may affect the ears in a similar way, damaging blood vessels in the inner ear. But overall health management may 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, individuals who aren’t managing their blood sugar or otherwise managing the disease, suffered worse outcomes. It’s significant to get your blood sugar checked if you believe you may have overlooked diabetes or are prediabetic. By the same token, if you have trouble hearing, it’s a good plan to reach out to us.
2. Increased risk of falling associated with hearing loss
Why would having difficulty hearing cause a fall? Even though our ears play an important part in helping us balance, there are other reasons why hearing loss might get you down (in this instance, very literally). Individuals with hearing loss who have had a fall were the participants of a recent study. Though this study didn’t investigate what had caused the subjects’ falls, the authors suspected that having trouble 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 working hard to concentrate on the sounds around you, you may be distracted to your environment and that may also lead to a higher risk of falling. Fortunately, your danger of experiencing a fall is decreased by getting your hearing loss treated.
3. Treat high blood pressure to protect your hearing
Numerous studies have revealed that hearing loss is linked to high blood pressure, and some have found that high blood pressure might actually speed up age-related hearing loss. Clearly, this isn’t the kind of comforting news that makes your blood pressure drop. But it’s a connection that’s been found pretty consistently, even when controlling for variables like noise exposure and whether you’re a smoker. (Please don’t smoke.) The only variable that is important appears to be gender: The link between hearing loss and high blood pressure is even stronger if you’re a male.
Your ears have a very close relation to your circulatory system. Two of your body’s main arteries run right by your ears and it consists of many tiny blood vessels. The sound that individuals hear when they experience tinnitus is frequently their own blood pumping as a consequence of 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 cause physical damage to your ears, that’s the main theory as to why it would hasten hearing loss. Every beat of your heart will have more force if it’s pumping blood harder. The small arteries in your ears could possibly be harmed as a consequence. High blood pressure can be managed through both lifestyle changes and medical interventions. 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 give us a call for a hearing test.
4. Dementia 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 documented, scientists have been less productive at figuring out why the two are so strongly linked. The most widespread concept is that people with untreated hearing loss tend to withdraw from social interaction and become debilitated by lack of stimulus. The stress of hearing loss overloading the brain is another theory. In other words, because your brain is putting so much energy into comprehending the sounds around you, you might not have much energy left for remembering things like where you left your keys. Preserving social ties and doing crosswords or “brain games” could be beneficial, but so can treating 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 experiencing hearing loss, schedule an appointment with us right away.