Let’s face it, there’s no getting away from aging, and with it often comes hearing loss. You can take some steps to look younger but you’re still getting older. But did you know that hearing loss has also been connected to health problems related to aging that are treatable, and in some instances, preventable? Here’s a look at a few examples, #2 might surprise you.
1. Diabetes could impact your hearing
The fact that hearing loss and diabetes have a link is pretty well understood. But why would you have an increased risk of experiencing hearing loss if you have diabetes? Science is at somewhat of a loss here. Diabetes has been known to damage the kidneys, eyes, and extremities. One theory is that the condition might affect the ears in a similar way, damaging blood vessels in the inner ear. But it could also be related to overall health management. A 2015 study found that people with overlooked diabetes had worse outcomes than individuals who were treating and managing their diabetes. It’s significant to get your blood sugar tested if you suspect you may have overlooked diabetes or are prediabetic. And, it’s a good plan to get in touch with us if you think your hearing might be compromised.
2. Increased danger of falling associated with hearing loss
Why would having a hard time hearing make you fall? Our sense of balance is, to some extent, regulated by our ears. But there are other reasons why falls are more likely if you have loss of hearing. A study was carried out on participants who have hearing loss who have recently fallen. Although this study didn’t explore what had caused the subjects’ falls, the authors suspected that having difficulty hearing what’s around you (and missing crucial sounds such as a car honking) could be one problem. At the same time, if you’re working hard to pay close attention to the sounds around you, you could be distracted to your environment and that might also lead to a higher chance of falling. Fortunately, your risk of experiencing a fall is reduced by having your hearing loss treated.
3. Safeguard your hearing by controlling high blood pressure
Several studies have revealed that hearing loss is associated with high blood pressure, and some have discovered that high blood pressure might actually hasten age-related hearing loss. This sort of news may make you feel like your blood pressure is actually rising. But it’s a connection that’s been discovered pretty consistently, even when controlling for variables such as noise exposure and whether you’re a smoker. (You should never smoke!) The only variable that is important appears to be gender: The link between hearing loss and high blood pressure is even stronger if you’re a man.
Your ears aren’t part of your circulatory system, but they’re darn close to it. In addition to the many tiny blood vessels inside of your ear, two of the body’s principal arteries go right by it. The sound that individuals hear when they experience tinnitus is frequently their own blood pumping due to high blood pressure. That’s why this type of tinnitus is known as pulsatile tinnitus; you hear your pulse. But high blood pressure could also possibly result in physical harm to your ears, that’s the leading theory behind why it would accelerate hearing loss. If your heart is pumping harder, there’s more force behind each beat. That could potentially damage the smaller blood arteries inside of your ears. Through medical treatment and lifestyle improvement, it is possible to manage high blood pressure. But even if you don’t think you’re old enough for age-related hearing loss, if you’re having difficulty hearing, you should give us a call for a hearing exam.
4. Hearing loss and dementia
It’s scary stuff, but it’s significant to mention that while the connection between hearing loss and cognitive decline has been well recognized, scientists have been less productive at sussing out why the two are so powerfully connected. A prevalent theory is that having difficulty hearing can cause people to stay away from social situations and that social withdrawal, and lack of mental stimulation, can be incapacitating. The stress of hearing loss straining the brain is another idea. 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 left your keys. Playing “brain games” and keeping your social life intact can be really 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.