Let’s face it, there’s no getting away from aging, and with it usually 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 associated with aging that are treatable, and in some instances, avoidable? Let’s take a look at a few examples that may surprise you.
1. Diabetes could impact your hearing
So it’s fairly well recognized that diabetes is associated with an increased danger of hearing loss. But why would you have a higher risk of experiencing hearing loss if you have diabetes? Science is at somewhat of a loss here. Diabetes has been known to harm the kidneys, eyes, and extremities. One idea is that the condition might impact the ears in a similar way, damaging blood vessels in the inner ear. But it could also be related to general health management. A 2015 study that looked at U.S. military veterans underscored the link between hearing loss and diabetes, but specifically, it found that those with unchecked diabetes, in other words, individuals who are not controlling their blood sugar or alternatively treating the disease, suffered worse consequences. It’s significant to get your blood sugar checked if you think you may have undiagnosed diabetes or are prediabetic. And, it’s a good idea to get in touch with us if you think your hearing may be compromised.
2. Risk of hearing loss associated falls goes up
Why would your chance of falling increase if you have hearing loss? 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 participants with hearing loss who have recently fallen. The study didn’t go into detail about the cause of the falls but it did speculate that missing significant sounds, like a car honking, could be a huge part of the cause. 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 result in a higher risk of falling. The good news here is that treating hearing loss could potentially reduce your danger of having a fall.
3. Protect your hearing by controlling high blood pressure
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. Obviously, this is not the sort of reassuring news that makes your blood pressure go down. But it’s a connection that’s been found rather consistently, even when controlling for variables such as noise exposure and whether you’re a smoker. (You should never smoke!) The only variable that is important appears to be sex: The link between hearing loss and high blood pressure is even stronger if you’re a male.
Your ears aren’t a component of your circulatory system, but they’re really close to it. Two of your body’s main arteries are positioned right near your ears and it consists of many tiny blood vessels. The noise 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 called pulsatile tinnitus; you hear your pulse. But high blood pressure could also possibly result in physical damage to your ears, that’s the primary theory behind why it would accelerate hearing loss. If your heart is pumping harder, there’s more force behind each beat. That could potentially damage the smaller blood arteries in your ears. High blood pressure can be managed through both lifestyle modifications and medical treatments. 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
Even though a powerful connection between cognitive decline and hearing loss has been well established, scientists are still not completely certain what the link is. 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. Another theory is that hearing loss taxes your brain. When your brain is working overtime 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 number one thing you can do is treat your hearing loss. Social engagements will be easier when you can hear clearly and instead of battling to hear what people are saying, you can focus on the essential stuff.
If you’re concerned that you might be dealing with hearing loss, make an appointment with us right away.