Let’s face it, there’s no escape from aging, and with it often comes hearing loss. You can do some things to look younger but you’re still aging. But did you realize that hearing loss has also been linked to health issues related to aging that are treatable, and in some cases, avoidable? Let’s have a look at some examples that might be surprising.
1. Your hearing can be affected by diabetes
So it’s fairly well recognized that diabetes is connected to an increased risk of hearing loss. But why would diabetes put you at an increased risk of developing hearing loss? Well, science doesn’t have all the solutions here. Diabetes has been known to harm the kidneys, eyes, and extremities. Blood vessels in the inner ear might, theoretically, be getting destroyed in a similar way. But general health management could also be a factor. A 2015 study that looked at U.S. military veterans highlighted the link between hearing loss and diabetes, but specifically, it found that those with uncontrolled diabetes, in other words, people who aren’t managing their blood sugar or otherwise treating the disease, suffered worse outcomes. It’s important to get your blood sugar checked if you suspect you might have undiagnosed diabetes or are prediabetic. By the same token, if you have difficulty hearing, it’s a good idea to contact us.
2. Danger of hearing loss associated falls increases
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 hearing loss. A study was conducted on participants who have hearing loss who have recently fallen. Although this study didn’t delve into what had caused the subjects’ falls, the authors speculated that having difficulty hearing what’s around you (and missing crucial sounds such as a car honking) could be one problem. But it might also go the other way, if difficulty hearing means you’re paying more attention to sounds than to your environment, it could be easy to trip and fall. Fortunately, your risk of having a fall is reduced by having your hearing loss treated.
3. Protect your hearing by controlling high blood pressure
High blood pressure and hearing loss have been closely linked in some studies indicating that high blood pressure may speed up hearing loss due to the aging process. This sort of news may 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!) Gender appears to be the only significant variable: The connection between hearing loss and high blood pressure is even stronger if you’re a man.
Your ears aren’t a component of your circulatory system, but they’re darn close to it. Along with the many tiny blood vessels inside of your ear, two of the body’s main arteries run right by it. The noise that people hear when they have tinnitus is often their own blood pumping due to high blood pressure. When your tinnitus symptoms are caused by your own pulse, it’s known as pulsatile tinnitus. The leading theory why high blood pressure can cause hearing loss is that it can actually cause physical damage to the vessels in the ears. Every beat of your heart will have more force if it’s pumping blood harder. That could possibly harm the smaller blood arteries inside of your ears. Through medical intervention and lifestyle improvement, 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 give us a call for a hearing test.
4. Cognitive decline and hearing loss
It’s scary stuff, but it’s significant to mention that while the link between hearing loss and cognitive decline has been well recognized, scientists have been less successful at sussing out why the two are so strongly connected. The most widespread theory is that people with neglected hearing loss often retreat from social interaction and become debilitated by lack of stimulation. Another theory is that hearing loss overloads your brain. In other words, because your brain is putting so much energy into understanding the sounds around you, you may not have much juice 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 essential stuff.
Make an appointment with us as soon as possible if you suspect you may be experiencing hearing loss.