Let’s face it, there’s no getting away from aging, and with it usually comes hearing loss. Sure, coloring your hair might make you look younger, but it doesn’t really change your age. But did you know that hearing loss has also been connected to health problems associated with aging that are treatable, and in some cases, preventable? Let’s take a look at some examples that may be surprising.
1. Diabetes can impact your hearing
The fact that hearing loss and diabetes have a link is fairly well established. But why would diabetes give you a higher risk of experiencing hearing loss? Well, science doesn’t provide all the solutions here. Diabetes is known to harm the kidneys, eyes, and extremities. Blood vessels in the inner ear might, theoretically, be getting destroyed in a similar way. But it could also be related to general health management. A 2015 study found that individuals with overlooked diabetes had worse outcomes than individuals who were treating and managing their diabetes. If you are worried that you may be prediabetic or have overlooked diabetes, it’s essential to talk with a physician and get your blood sugar examined. By the same token, if you have difficulty hearing, it’s a good idea to contact us.
2. Increased danger of falling associated with hearing loss
Why would your chance of falling go up if you have hearing loss? 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 hearing loss. Individuals with hearing loss who have had a fall were the subjects of a recent study. The study didn’t detail the cause of the falls but it did speculate that missing crucial sounds, like a car honking, could be a huge part of the cause. At the same time, if you’re struggling to pay close attention to the sounds nearby, you may be distracted to your environment and that could also result in a higher risk of falling. Luckily, your danger of having a fall is decreased by getting your hearing loss treated.
3. Control high blood pressure to protect your hearing
High blood pressure and hearing loss have been closely linked in some studies indicating that high blood pressure may accelerate hearing loss due to the aging process. Clearly, this is not the sort of comforting news that makes your blood pressure drop. But it’s a connection that’s been discovered rather consistently, even when controlling for variables like 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 man, the link between high blood pressure and hearing loss is even stronger.
Your ears aren’t part of your circulatory system, but they’re darn close to it. Two of your body’s primary arteries run right by your ears and it contains many tiny blood vessels. The sound that people hear when they have tinnitus is frequently their own blood pumping as a consequence of high blood pressure. That’s why this kind of tinnitus is known as pulsatile tinnitus; you hear your pulse. The principal theory why high blood pressure can lead to hearing loss is that it can actually cause physical harm 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. High blood pressure is manageable through both lifestyle changes and medical interventions. But even if you don’t think you’re old enough for age-related hearing loss, if you’re having difficulty hearing, you should call us for a hearing test.
4. Dementia and hearing loss
It’s scary stuff, but it’s significant to note that while the link between hearing loss and cognitive decline has been well documented, scientists have been less productive at figuring out why the two are so powerfully connected. A prevalent idea is that having problems hearing can cause people to stay away from social situations and that social withdrawal, and lack of cognitive stimulation, can be debilitating. Another theory is that hearing loss overloads your brain. When your brain is working overtime to process sound, there might not be very much brainpower left for things like memory. Playing “brain games” and keeping your social life intact can be really helpful but the number one thing you can do is manage your hearing loss. If you’re able to hear well, social scenarios are easier to handle, and you’ll be able to focus on the important stuff instead of trying to figure out what someone just said.
If you’re concerned that you may be suffering from hearing loss, make an appointment with us right away.