Let’s face it, there’s no escape from aging, and with it often comes hearing loss. You can take some steps to look younger but you’re still aging. But did you know that hearing loss has also been connected to health problems related to aging that are treatable, and in some cases, preventable? Let’s have a look at some examples that may surprise you.
1. Diabetes could affect your hearing
So it’s pretty well recognized that diabetes is associated with an increased danger of hearing loss. But why would you have a higher danger of developing hearing loss if you have diabetes? Science is at a bit of a loss here. Diabetes is connected to a wide range of health problems, and in particular, can cause physical harm to the eyes, kidneys, and extremities. Blood vessels in the inner ear may, theoretically, be getting damaged in a similar way. But it could also be related to overall health management. A 2015 study that looked at U.S. military veterans underscored the connection between hearing loss and diabetes, but in particular, it found that those with uncontrolled diabetes, in other words, individuals who aren’t managing their blood sugar or otherwise treating the disease, suffered worse consequences. If you are worried that you may be prediabetic or have overlooked diabetes, it’s essential to speak to a physician and have your blood sugar evaluated. By the same token, if you have difficulty hearing, it’s a good idea to contact us.
2. Increased risk of falling associated with hearing loss
Why would having difficulty hearing cause a fall? Though our ears play an important part in helping us balance, there are other reasons why hearing loss could get you down (in this instance, very literally). Research was conducted on individuals who have hearing loss who have recently had a fall. Although this study didn’t investigate what had caused the subjects’ falls, the authors speculated that having difficulty hearing what’s around you (and missing important sounds like a car honking) could be one issue. At the same time, if you’re working hard to pay close attention to the sounds nearby, you could be distracted to your environment and that might also result in a higher risk of falling. The good news here is that managing hearing loss could potentially decrease your danger of having a fall.
3. Manage high blood pressure to protect your hearing
Several studies have revealed that hearing loss is associated with high blood pressure, and some have found that high blood pressure might actually accelerate age-related hearing loss. This kind 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 link has consistently been found. (You should never smoke!) Gender appears to be the only appreciable variable: If you’re a male, the connection between high blood pressure and hearing loss is even stronger.
Your ears have a close relation to your circulatory system. Along with the many tiny blood vessels inside of your ear, two of the body’s main arteries run right by it. This is one reason why people who have high blood pressure frequently suffer from tinnitus, the pulsing they’re hearing is actually their own blood pumping. That’s why this kind of tinnitus is known as pulsatile tinnitus; you hear your pulse. But high blood pressure could also potentially cause physical damage to your ears, that’s the leading theory as to why it would hasten hearing loss. Every beat of your heart will have more pressure if it’s pumping blood harder. That could possibly damage the smaller blood arteries inside of your ears. High blood pressure is manageable through both lifestyle modifications and medical interventions. But if you think you’re experiencing hearing loss, even if you believe you’re not old enough for the age-related stuff, it’s a good idea to speak with us.
4. Cognitive decline and hearing loss
Even though a powerful link between mental decline and hearing loss has been well established, scientists are still not completely sure what the connection is. A common theory is that having trouble hearing can cause people to avoid social situations and that social detachment, and lack of cognitive stimulation, can be incapacitating. The stress of hearing loss overloading the brain is another theory. When your brain is working extra hard to process sound, there might not be much brainpower left for things like memory. Playing “brain games” and keeping your social life active can be really helpful but the best thing you can do is treat 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 important stuff.
If you’re worried that you might be suffering from hearing loss, schedule an appointment with us today.