Let’s face it, there’s no getting away from aging, and with it often comes hearing loss. Sure, dyeing 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 associated with aging that are treatable, and in some instances, avoidable? Let’s take a look at some examples that may be surprising.
1. Diabetes can affect your hearing
The fact that hearing loss and diabetes have a link is fairly well understood. But why would diabetes put you at an increased risk of developing hearing loss? Science is at a bit of a loss here. Diabetes is known to harm the kidneys, eyes, and extremities. One theory is that the condition might impact the ears in a similar way, destroying blood vessels in the inner ear. 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 unchecked diabetes, in other words, people who aren’t controlling their blood sugar or otherwise treating the disease, suffered worse consequences. It’s important to get your blood sugar checked if you believe you might have undiagnosed diabetes or are prediabetic. And, it’s a good plan to contact us if you think your hearing might be compromised.
2. Danger of hearing loss related falls goes up
Why would having trouble hearing cause a fall? Even though our ears play an important part in helping us balance, there are other reasons why hearing loss may get you down (in this case, very literally). A study was carried out on people who have hearing loss who have recently fallen. Though this study didn’t delve into what had caused the subjects’ falls, the authors speculated that having difficulty hearing what’s around you (and missing crucial sounds such as a car honking) could be one problem. But it might also go the other way, if difficulty hearing means you’re paying more attention to sounds than to your environment, it could be easy to trip and fall. Fortunately, your danger of experiencing a fall is decreased by getting your hearing loss treated.
3. Manage 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 may speed up hearing loss due to aging. Clearly, this is not the sort of reassuring news that makes your blood pressure drop. Even when variables such as noise exposure or smoking are taken into consideration, the connection has persistently been seen. (You should never smoke!) Gender seems to be the only appreciable variable: If you’re a male, 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 near your ears and it consists of many tiny blood vessels. The sound that people hear when they have tinnitus is often their own blood pumping due to high blood pressure. That’s why this kind of tinnitus is called pulsatile tinnitus; you hear your pulse. The primary theory why high blood pressure can bring about 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 potentially harm the smaller blood arteries inside of your ears. Through medical intervention and lifestyle improvement, it is possible to manage high blood pressure. But if you suspect you’re dealing with hearing loss, even if you think you’re not old enough for the age-related stuff, it’s a good move to consult with us.
4. Cognitive decline and hearing loss
It’s scary stuff, but it’s significant to mention that while the connection between hearing loss and cognitive decline has been well documented, scientists have been less successful at sussing out why the two are so powerfully linked. A common idea is that having trouble hearing can cause people to avoid social situations and that social withdrawal, and lack of mental stimulation, can be incapacitating. Another theory is that hearing loss overloads your brain. 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 put your keys. Preserving social ties and doing crosswords or “brain games” could help here, but so can managing 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 attempting to figure out what someone just said.
If you’re concerned that you might be suffering from hearing loss, make an appointment with us right away.