Let’s face it, there’s no escape from aging, and with it often comes hearing loss. Sure, coloring your hair may make you look younger, but it doesn’t actually change your age. But did you know that hearing loss has also been linked to health problems related to aging that are treatable, and in some instances, avoidable? Here’s a look at some examples, #2 may come as a surprise.
1. Your hearing can be affected by diabetes
The fact that hearing loss and diabetes have a connection is fairly well established. But why would diabetes give you an increased risk of suffering from hearing loss? Science is at somewhat of a loss here. Diabetes is known to damage the kidneys, eyes, and extremities. One idea is that the condition may impact the ears in a similar way, damaging blood vessels in the inner ear. But it could also be linked to overall health management. A 2015 study discovered that individuals with neglected diabetes had worse results than people who were treating and managing their diabetes. If you are worried that you may be prediabetic or have overlooked diabetes, it’s essential to speak to a doctor and get your blood sugar examined. And, it’s a good plan to get in touch with us if you think your hearing may be compromised.
2. Risk of hearing loss associated falls goes up
Why would your chance of falling increase if you have hearing loss? Even though our ears play an important part in helping us balance, there are other reasons why hearing loss may get you down (in this instance, quite literally). Individuals with hearing loss who have taken a fall were the subjects of a recent study. The study didn’t go into detail about the cause of the falls but it did speculate that missing significant sounds, such as 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 surroundings, it could be easy to stumble and fall. Fortunately, your risk of having a fall is decreased by getting your hearing loss treated.
3. Safeguard your hearing by treating high blood pressure
High blood pressure and hearing loss have been closely linked in some studies indicating that high blood pressure might accelerate hearing loss related to aging. This kind of news may make you feel like your blood pressure is actually rising. But it’s a connection that’s been discovered rather consistently, even when controlling for variables such as noise exposure and whether you’re a smoker. (Please don’t smoke.) Gender appears 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 aren’t part of your circulatory system, but they’re darn close to it. In addition to the many tiny blood vessels inside of 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 due to your own pulse, it’s called pulsatile tinnitus. But high blood pressure could also possibly cause physical harm to your ears, that’s the leading theory behind why it would accelerate hearing loss. Every beat of your heart will have more force if it’s pumping blood harder. That could potentially harm the smaller blood arteries inside of your ears. Through medical treatment and lifestyle change, blood pressure can be managed. 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 speak 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 recognized, scientists have been less productive at sussing out why the two are so powerfully linked. The most widespread concept is that people with neglected hearing loss often retreat from social interaction and become debilitated by lack of stimulus. Another concept is that hearing loss taxes your brain. When your brain is working overtime to process sound, there might not be much brainpower left for things like memory. Maintaining social ties and doing crosswords or “brain games” could be beneficial, 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 trying to figure out what somebody just said.
If you’re concerned that you may be dealing with hearing loss, make an appointment with us right away.