Woman improving her life expectancy by wearing hearing aids and working out is outside on a pier.

Much like reading glasses and graying hair, hearing loss is simply one of those things that many people accept as a part of growing old. But a study from Duke-NUS Medical School reveals a connection between hearing loss and overall health in older adults.

Senior citizens with hearing or vision loss often struggle more with cognitive decline, depression, and communication problems. You may already have read about that. But one thing you might not recognize is that life expectancy can also be affected by hearing loss.

People with untreated hearing loss, according to this study, may actually have a shorter lifespan. What’s more, they found that if untreated hearing loss occurred with vision impairments it just about doubles the probability that they will have a tough time with tasks necessary for day-to-day living. It’s a problem that is both a physical and a quality of life concern.

This might sound bad but there’s a positive: hearing loss, for older people, can be treated through a variety of means. Even more importantly, having a hearing exam can help uncover major health concerns and spark you to pay more attention to staying healthy, which will improve your life expectancy.

What’s The Connection Between Hearing Loss And Poor Health?

Research definitely shows a link but the accurate cause and effect isn’t perfectly understood.

Researchers at Johns Hopkins note that older adults with hearing loss tended to have other problems, {such assuch as} high rates of smoking, greater chance of heart disease, and stroke.

When you know what the causes of hearing loss are, these results make more sense. Countless instances of tinnitus and hearing loss are tied to heart disease since high blood pressure affects the blood vessels in the ear canal. When the blood vessels are shrunken – which can be brought on by smoking – the blood in the body needs to work harder to keep the ears (and everything else) functioning which results in higher blood pressure. High blood pressure in older adults with hearing impairment often causes them to hear a whooshing noise in their ears.

Hearing loss has also been linked to dementia, Alzheimer’s disease, and other types of cognitive decline. Hearing specialists and other health professionals think there are several reasons why the two are linked: for starters, the brain needs to work overtime to differentiate words in a conversation, which allows less mental ability to actually process the words or do anything else. In other circumstances, many people who have hearing loss tend to be less social, usually because of the difficulty they have communicating. This social separation leads to depression and anxiety, which can have a major impact on a person’s mental health.

How Hearing Loss Can be Treated by Older Adults

Older adults have a number of choices for treating hearing loss, but as the studies reveal, the best thing to do is address the issue as soon as you can before it has more severe repercussions.

Hearing aids are one type of treatment that can work wonders in dealing with your hearing loss. There are small discreet versions of hearing aids that are Bluetooth ready and a variety of other options are also available. Also, basic quality of life has been enhancing as a result of hearing aid technology. For instance, they let you hear better during your entertainment by allowing you to connect to your phone, computer, or TV and they block out background sound better than older versions.

Older adults can also visit a nutritionist or consult with their primary care physician about changes to their diet to help counter additional hearing loss. There are connections between iron deficiency anemia and hearing loss, for example, which can frequently be treated by adding more iron into your diet. A better diet can help your other medical conditions and help you have better total health.

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