Aging is one of the most prevalent indicators of hearing loss, and let’s face it, try as we might, we can’t avoid aging. You can take some steps to look younger but you’re still aging. But did you realize 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 surprise you.
1. Diabetes could affect your hearing
So it’s pretty well recognized that diabetes is linked to a higher risk of hearing loss. But why would diabetes put you at a higher risk of suffering from hearing loss? Science is at a bit of a loss here. Diabetes is connected to a wide range of health issues, and specifically, can cause physical harm to the eyes, kidneys, and extremities. Blood vessels in the inner ear may, theoretically, be getting destroyed in a similar way. But overall health management may also be a factor. A 2015 study discovered that people with overlooked diabetes had worse results than people who were treating and managing their diabetes. 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. Risk of hearing loss associated falls goes up
Why would having trouble hearing cause a fall? Our sense of balance is, to some degree, regulated by our ears. But there are other reasons why falls are more likely if you have loss of hearing. Individuals with hearing loss who have taken a fall were the participants of a recent study. Although this study didn’t investigate the cause of the subjects’ falls, the authors suspected that having difficulty hearing what’s around you (and missing important sounds such as a car honking) could be one problem. 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 trip and fall. Luckily, your risk of experiencing a fall is decreased by getting your hearing loss treated.
3. Protect your hearing by managing high blood pressure
High blood pressure and hearing loss have been closely linked in some studies indicating that high blood pressure may accelerate hearing loss related to aging. This sort of news may make you feel like your blood pressure is actually going up. But it’s a link that’s been found rather consistently, even when controlling for variables such as noise exposure and whether you’re a smoker. (You should never 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 have a very close relation to your circulatory system. Two of your body’s principal arteries are positioned right near 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 due to high blood pressure. That’s why this kind of tinnitus is called pulsatile tinnitus; you hear your pulse. The primary theory why high blood pressure can lead to 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. The little arteries in your ears could possibly be damaged as a result. Through medical treatment and lifestyle change, it is possible to manage high blood pressure. 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 call us for a hearing exam.
4. Dementia and hearing loss
Even though a powerful link between mental decline and hearing loss has been well established, scientists are still not altogether sure what the connection is. A common theory is that having difficulty hearing can cause people to avoid social situations and that social withdrawal, and lack of cognitive stimulation, can be incapacitating. The stress of hearing loss straining the brain is another theory. In other words, because your brain is putting so much energy into understanding the sounds around you, you might not have much energy left for remembering things like where you put your keys. Playing “brain games” and keeping your social life active can be really helpful but the best thing you can do is manage your 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 important stuff.
If you’re concerned that you might be suffering from hearing loss, schedule an appointment with us today.