Let’s face it, there’s no getting away from aging, and with it usually comes hearing loss. Sure, coloring your hair may make you look younger, but it doesn’t actually change your age. 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 may surprise you.
1. Your hearing can be impacted by diabetes
The fact that hearing loss and diabetes have a link is fairly well established. But why would you have an increased danger of developing hearing loss if you have diabetes? Science is at a bit of a loss here. Diabetes is connected to a wide variety of health issues, and in particular, can cause physical harm to the eyes, kidneys, and extremities. Blood vessels in the inner ear might, theoretically, be getting damaged in a similar way. But it could also be related to general health management. A 2015 study revealed that individuals 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. By the same token, if you have difficulty hearing, it’s a good idea to reach out to us.
2. Increased risk of falling associated with hearing loss
Why would having a hard time hearing make you fall? Although our ears play an important role in helping us balance, there are other reasons why hearing loss may get you down (in this instance, very literally). Research was conducted on individuals who have hearing loss who have recently had a fall. Though this study didn’t explore what had caused the subjects’ falls, the authors speculated that having trouble hearing what’s around you (and missing crucial sounds such as a car honking) could be one issue. At the same time, if you’re working hard to concentrate on the sounds around you, you could be distracted to your environment and that could also lead to a higher risk of having a fall. Luckily, your risk of having a fall is reduced by having your hearing loss treated.
3. Treat high blood pressure to safeguard your hearing
High blood pressure and hearing loss have been closely linked in some studies indicating that high blood pressure might accelerate hearing loss due to the aging process. This sort of news may make you feel like your blood pressure is actually rising. But it’s a connection that’s been found pretty consistently, even when controlling for variables like 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 aren’t part of your circulatory system, but they’re darn close to it. Two of your body’s principal arteries run right near your ears and it consists of many tiny blood vessels. This is one reason why individuals with high blood pressure often suffer from tinnitus, the pulsing they’re hearing is actually their own blood pumping. That’s why this kind of tinnitus is called pulsatile tinnitus; you hear your pulse. The primary theory why high blood pressure can cause hearing loss is that it can actually cause physical harm to the vessels in the ears. If your heart is pumping harder, there’s more pressure behind each beat. That could possibly damage the smaller blood arteries in 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 call us for a hearing test.
4. Cognitive decline and hearing loss
Even though a strong link between mental decline and hearing loss has been well established, scientists are still not altogether certain what the link is. A prevalent idea is that having trouble hearing can cause people to avoid social situations and that social detachment, and lack of cognitive stimulation, can be incapacitating. Another theory is that hearing loss overloads your brain. When your brain is working extra hard to process sound, there may not be very much brainpower left for things like memory. Maintaining social ties and doing crosswords or “brain games” could be helpful, but so can treating 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.
Schedule an appointment with us right away if you think you may be experiencing hearing loss.