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 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 cases, preventable? Let’s have a look at a few examples that may surprise you.
1. Diabetes can affect your hearing
So it’s fairly well recognized that diabetes is linked to a higher danger of hearing loss. But why would you have an increased risk of developing hearing loss if you have diabetes? Science is at somewhat of a loss here. Diabetes is known to harm the kidneys, eyes, and extremities. Blood vessels in the inner ear may, theoretically, be getting damaged in a similar way. But it could also be connected to overall health management. A 2015 study found that people with overlooked diabetes had worse outcomes than people who were treating and managing their diabetes. It’s important to get your blood sugar checked if you believe you may have overlooked diabetes or are prediabetic. By the same token, if you have trouble hearing, it’s a good idea to reach out to us.
2. Risk of hearing loss related falls goes up
Why would having trouble hearing make you fall? Even though our ears play an important role in helping us balance, there are other reasons why hearing loss may get you down (in this case, quite literally). Research was conducted on participants with hearing loss who have recently fallen. 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 crucial sounds such as a car honking) could be one issue. At the same time, if you’re struggling to concentrate on the sounds nearby, you may be distracted to your environment and that might also lead to a higher risk of having a fall. The good news here is that managing hearing loss could potentially reduce your danger of having a fall.
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 might accelerate hearing loss related to aging. This kind of news might make you feel like your blood pressure is actually rising. But it’s a link that’s been found rather consistently, even when controlling for variables like noise exposure and whether you’re a smoker. (You should never smoke!) The only variable that makes a difference seems to be gender: The link between hearing loss and high blood pressure is even stronger if you’re a male.
Your ears aren’t part of your circulatory system, but they’re really close to it. Along with the many tiny blood vessels inside your ear, two of the body’s principal 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 called pulsatile tinnitus; you hear your pulse. But high blood pressure could also possibly result in physical harm to your ears, that’s the main theory as to why it would speed up hearing loss. Every beat of your heart will have more pressure 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 modifications and medical treatments. But if you think 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. Hearing loss and dementia
It’s scary stuff, but it’s important to note that while the connection 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 theory is that having difficulty hearing can cause people to stay away from social situations and that social detachment, and lack of mental stimulation, can be debilitating. The stress of hearing loss straining the brain is another theory. In other words, because your brain is putting so much energy into comprehending the sounds around you, you might not have much energy left for remembering things like where you put your keys. Playing “brain games” and keeping your social life active can be very helpful but the best thing you can do is manage 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 essential stuff.
If you’re worried that you may be dealing with hearing loss, schedule an appointment with us today.