Let’s face it, there’s no escape from aging, and with it usually comes hearing loss. Sure, dyeing your hair might make you look younger, but it doesn’t really 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 cases, avoidable? Let’s take a look at a few examples that may surprise you.
1. Your hearing could be affected by diabetes
So it’s pretty well established that diabetes is associated with an increased risk of hearing loss. But why would diabetes put you at an increased risk of suffering from hearing loss? Science is at somewhat of a loss here. Diabetes has been known to damage the kidneys, eyes, and extremities. One idea is that the condition may affect the ears in a similar way, damaging blood vessels in the inner ear. But general health management could also be a consideration. A 2015 study that looked at U.S. military veterans underscored the link between hearing loss and diabetes, but in particular, it found that those with uncontrolled diabetes, in other words, individuals who are not managing their blood sugar or alternatively treating the disease, suffered worse consequences. It’s important to get your blood sugar checked if you think you might have overlooked diabetes or are prediabetic. And, it’s a good plan to get in touch with us if you think your hearing might be compromised.
2. Risk of hearing loss associated falls goes up
Why would having difficulty hearing make you fall? Our sense of balance is, to some degree, managed by our ears. But there are other reasons why falls are more likely if you have loss of hearing. People with hearing loss who have taken a fall were the participants of a recent study. The study didn’t go into detail about the cause of the falls but it did conjecture that missing important sounds, like a car honking, could be a large part of the cause. At the same time, if you’re working hard to pay close attention to the sounds nearby, you may be distracted to your environment and that may also lead to a higher chance of having a fall. Fortunately, your risk of having a fall is decreased by having your hearing loss treated.
3. Safeguard your hearing by managing high blood pressure
High blood pressure and hearing loss have been closely linked in some studies indicating that high blood pressure might accelerate hearing loss related to the aging process. Clearly, this isn’t the kind of comforting news that makes your blood pressure go down. Even when variables such as noise exposure or smoking are taken into account, the connection has consistently been seen. (Please don’t smoke.) The only variable that makes a difference seems to be gender: If you’re a male, the link between high blood pressure and hearing loss is even stronger.
Your ears aren’t a component of your circulatory system, but they’re darn 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 individuals with high blood pressure frequently suffer from tinnitus, the pulsing they’re hearing is actually their own blood pumping. That’s why this type of tinnitus is called pulsatile tinnitus; you hear your pulse. The leading theory why high blood pressure can bring about hearing loss is that it can actually do physical damage to the vessels in the ears. Every beat of your heart will have more pressure if it’s pumping blood harder. The small arteries in your ears could potentially be harmed as a consequence. Through medical treatment and lifestyle change, blood pressure can be managed. But even if you don’t feel like you’re old enough for age-related hearing loss, if you’re having trouble hearing, you should give us a call for a hearing test.
4. Hearing loss and dementia
It’s scary stuff, but it’s important to mention that while the link between hearing loss and cognitive decline has been well recognized, scientists have been less successful at figuring out why the two are so strongly linked. A common theory is that having difficulty hearing can cause people to stay away from social situations and that social withdrawal, and lack of cognitive stimulation, can be incapacitating. Another theory is that hearing loss taxes your brain. When your brain is working overtime to process sound, there may not be much brainpower left for things like memory. Playing “brain games” and keeping your social life active can be very helpful but the number one thing you can do is treat your hearing loss. If you’re able to hear clearly, social scenarios are easier to deal with, and you’ll be able to focus on the important stuff instead of trying to figure out what someone just said.
If you’re worried that you might be suffering from hearing loss, make an appointment with us today.