Let’s face it, there’s no escape from aging, and with it usually comes hearing loss. You can do some things to look younger but you’re still getting older. But did you realize that hearing loss has also been connected to health issues associated with aging that are treatable, and in some cases, preventable? Let’s take a look at some examples that may be surprising.
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 you have an increased danger of developing hearing loss if you have diabetes? Well, science doesn’t provide all the answers here. Diabetes is connected to a wide variety of health problems, and in particular, 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 might also be a consideration. A 2015 study found that individuals with overlooked diabetes had worse outcomes than people who were treating and managing their diabetes. If you are worried that you may be prediabetic or have undiagnosed diabetes, it’s important to talk with a physician and get your blood sugar tested. By the same token, if you have trouble hearing, it’s a good idea to contact us.
2. Risk of hearing loss associated falls increases
Why would having trouble hearing make you 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 hearing loss. A study was conducted on individuals who have hearing loss who have recently had a fall. 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 big part of the cause. At the same time, if you’re working hard to concentrate on the sounds nearby, you could be distracted to your environment and that might also lead to a higher danger of having a fall. The good news here is that managing hearing loss could potentially decrease your danger of having a fall.
3. Treat high blood pressure to protect your hearing
Multiple studies have shown that hearing loss is linked to high blood pressure, and some have discovered that high blood pressure may actually accelerate age-related hearing loss. Obviously, this isn’t the kind of reassuring news that makes your blood pressure drop. But it’s a connection that’s been found pretty 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 important variable: If you’re a man, the connection between high blood pressure and hearing loss is even stronger.
Your ears have a very close relation to your circulatory system. Along with the many tiny blood vessels inside your ear, two of the body’s primary arteries go right by it. The noise that people hear when they have tinnitus is frequently their own blood pumping due to high blood pressure. When your tinnitus symptoms are the result of your own pulse, it’s known as pulsatile tinnitus. The primary theory why high blood pressure can bring about hearing loss is that it can actually cause physical damage to the vessels in the ears. If your heart is pumping harder, there’s more pressure behind each beat. The little arteries in your ears could possibly be harmed as a consequence. Through medical intervention and lifestyle change, it is possible to manage high blood pressure. But if you suspect you’re experiencing hearing loss, even if you feel like you’re not old enough for the age-related stuff, it’s a good idea to consult with us.
4. Hearing loss and cognitive decline
It’s scary stuff, but it’s significant to mention that while the connection between hearing loss and cognitive decline has been well documented, scientists have been less successful at figuring out why the two are so strongly connected. The most prevalent theory is that people with neglected hearing loss often retreat from social interaction and become debilitated by lack of stimulus. Another theory is that hearing loss overloads your brain. When your brain is working extra hard to process sound, there might not be much brainpower left for things like memory. Preserving social ties and doing crosswords or “brain games” could help here, but so can treating hearing loss. If you’re able to hear clearly, social situations are easier to handle, and you’ll be able to focus on the important stuff instead of attempting to figure out what someone just said.
Schedule an appointment with us as soon as possible if you suspect you might be experiencing hearing loss.