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, 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 connected to health issues related to aging that are treatable, and in some instances, preventable? Let’s have a look at a few examples that might be surprising.
1. Your hearing could be impacted by diabetes
So it’s pretty well established that diabetes is associated with an increased danger of hearing loss. But why would diabetes give you an increased risk of experiencing hearing loss? Well, science doesn’t provide all the answers here. Diabetes has been known to damage the kidneys, eyes, and extremities. Blood vessels in the inner ear may, theoretically, be getting damaged in a similar way. But general health management might also be a consideration. A 2015 study revealed that people with neglected diabetes had worse results than people who were treating and managing their diabetes. It’s important to get your blood sugar tested if you believe you may have undiagnosed diabetes or are prediabetic. And, it’s a good plan to get in touch with us if you think your hearing may be compromised.
2. Increased danger of falling associated with hearing loss
Why would having difficulty hearing cause a fall? Although our ears play an important role in helping us balance, there are other reasons why hearing loss might get you down (in this instance, quite literally). A study was conducted on participants who have hearing loss who have recently fallen. The study didn’t go into detail about the cause of the falls but it did conjecture that missing important sounds, such as a car honking, could be a large 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. Luckily, your danger of experiencing a fall is decreased by getting your hearing loss treated.
3. Protect your hearing by managing high blood pressure
Several studies have revealed that hearing loss is linked to high blood pressure, and some have discovered that high blood pressure might actually accelerate age-related hearing loss. This sort of news might make you feel like your blood pressure is actually rising. Even when variables like 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 sex: If you’re a man, the connection between high blood pressure and hearing loss is even stronger.
Your ears aren’t part of your circulatory system, but they’re darn close to it. Two of your body’s main arteries run right near your ears and it consists of many tiny blood vessels. This is one reason why individuals with 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 leading theory why high blood pressure can cause hearing loss is that it can actually do physical harm to the vessels in the ears. Every beat of your heart will have more force if it’s pumping blood harder. That could potentially harm the smaller blood arteries in your ears. Through medical treatment and lifestyle change, blood pressure can be managed. But even if you don’t feel like you’re old enough for age-related hearing loss, if you’re having trouble hearing, you should contact us for a hearing exam.
4. Hearing loss and cognitive decline
Even though a strong connection between cognitive decline and hearing loss has been well established, scientists are still not entirely sure what the connection is. A prevalent idea is that having difficulty hearing can cause people to stay away from social situations and that social withdrawal, and lack of cognitive stimulation, can be incapacitating. The stress of hearing loss straining the brain is another idea. When your brain is working overtime to process sound, there might not be much brainpower left for things like memory. Playing “brain games” and keeping your social life active can be very helpful but the best thing you can do is manage your hearing loss. If you’re able to hear well, social situations are easier to handle, and you’ll be able to focus on the essential stuff instead of attempting to figure out what someone just said.
Make an appointment with us right away if you think you might be experiencing hearing loss.