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. Sure, coloring your hair may make you look younger, but it doesn’t really change your age. But did you realize that hearing loss has also been linked to health problems associated with aging that are treatable, and in some instances, preventable? Here’s a look at a few examples, #2 may surprise you.
1. Your hearing can be impacted by diabetes
So it’s fairly well established that diabetes is connected to an increased risk of hearing loss. But why would diabetes give you a higher risk of suffering from hearing loss? Well, science doesn’t provide all the answers here. Diabetes is connected to a wide range of health problems, and specifically, can cause physical damage 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 general health management might 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, individuals who are not controlling their blood sugar or alternatively treating the disease, suffered worse consequences. If you are worried that you may be prediabetic or have undiagnosed diabetes, it’s essential to talk with a doctor and have your blood sugar checked. By the same token, if you have trouble hearing, it’s a good idea to contact us.
2. Increased risk of falling associated with hearing loss
Why would your risk of falling increase if you have hearing loss? Although our ears play an important part in helping us balance, there are other reasons why hearing loss may get you down (in this instance, very literally). Individuals with hearing loss who have taken a fall were the participants of a recent study. Although this study didn’t explore 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. At the same time, if you’re working hard to concentrate on the sounds around you, you may be distracted to your environment and that may also result in a higher danger of having a fall. The good news here is that managing hearing loss could potentially reduce your danger of having a fall.
3. Safeguard your hearing by treating 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 might make you feel like your blood pressure is actually going up. But it’s a link that’s been found fairly 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 seems to be gender: If you’re a male, the connection between high blood pressure and hearing loss is even stronger.
Your ears aren’t part of your circulatory system, but they’re really close to it. Two of your body’s principal arteries run right near your ears and it consists of many tiny blood vessels. 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. But high blood pressure could also potentially cause physical damage to your ears, that’s the leading theory behind why it would accelerate hearing loss. Every beat of your heart will have more force if it’s pumping blood harder. That could potentially harm the smaller blood arteries inside of your ears. High blood pressure is manageable through both lifestyle improvements and medical interventions. But if you think you’re dealing with hearing loss, even if you believe you’re not old enough for the age-related stuff, it’s a good move to speak with us.
4. Dementia and hearing loss
It’s scary stuff, but it’s important to note that while the link between hearing loss and cognitive decline has been well documented, scientists have been less successful at figuring out why the two are so strongly linked. The most widespread theory is that people with untreated hearing loss often retreat from social interaction and become debilitated by lack of stimulus. The stress of hearing loss straining the brain is another idea. When your brain is working overtime 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 managing hearing loss. Social engagements will be easier when you can hear clearly and instead of battling to hear what people are saying, you can focus on the important stuff.
Schedule an appointment with us as soon as possible if you suspect you may be experiencing hearing loss.