Aging is one of the most prevalent indicators of hearing loss, and let’s face it, try as we might, we can’t avoid aging. You can take some steps to look younger but you’re still aging. But did you know that hearing loss has also been linked to health issues associated with aging that are treatable, and in some cases, avoidable? Here’s a look at a few examples, #2 might come as a surprise.
1. Diabetes can affect your hearing
The fact that hearing loss and diabetes have a connection is pretty well understood. But why would diabetes give you a higher risk of developing hearing loss? Science is at somewhat of a loss here. Diabetes is known to damage the kidneys, eyes, and extremities. Blood vessels in the inner ear may, theoretically, be getting destroyed in a similar way. But it could also be related to general health management. A 2015 study that looked at U.S. military veterans highlighted the connection between hearing loss and diabetes, but in particular, it found that those with unchecked diabetes, in other words, people who are not controlling their blood sugar or otherwise managing the disease, suffered worse outcomes. It’s significant to get your blood sugar checked if you believe you might have overlooked diabetes or are prediabetic. By the same token, if you have difficulty hearing, it’s a good plan to reach out to us.
2. Danger of hearing loss related falls increases
Why would your risk of falling increase if you have hearing loss? Our sense of balance is, to some extent, regulated by our ears. But there are other reasons why falling is more likely if you have loss of hearing. Research was carried out on individuals who have hearing loss who have recently had a fall. The study didn’t detail the cause of the falls but it did speculate that missing important sounds, like a car honking, could be a big part of the cause. At the same time, if you’re working hard to pay close attention to the sounds around you, you could be distracted to your environment and that could also result in a higher risk of falling. Fortunately, your danger of experiencing a fall is decreased by getting your hearing loss treated.
3. Control high blood pressure to protect your hearing
Numerous studies have shown that hearing loss is associated with high blood pressure, and some have discovered that high blood pressure might actually accelerate age-related hearing loss. This kind of news might make you feel like your blood pressure is actually going up. But it’s a connection that’s been discovered rather consistently, even when controlling for variables like noise exposure and whether you’re a smoker. (Please don’t smoke.) The only variable that makes a difference appears to be sex: The link between hearing loss and high blood pressure is even stronger if you’re a man.
Your ears have a close relation to your circulatory system. Two of your body’s principal arteries are positioned right near your ears and it consists of many tiny blood vessels. The noise that individuals hear when they experience tinnitus is often their own blood pumping as a consequence of high blood pressure. When your tinnitus symptoms are the result of your own pulse, it’s known as pulsatile tinnitus. 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. If your heart is pumping harder, there’s more force behind each beat. That could potentially harm the smaller blood arteries in your ears. Through medical treatment and lifestyle improvement, 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 difficulty hearing, you should give us a call for a hearing exam.
4. Hearing loss and cognitive decline
It’s scary stuff, but it’s significant to note that while the connection between hearing loss and cognitive decline has been well recognized, scientists have been less productive at sussing out why the two are so powerfully connected. The most widespread theory is that people with neglected hearing loss tend to withdraw from social interaction and become debilitated by lack of stimulation. The stress of hearing loss overloading the brain is another theory. When your brain is working overtime to process sound, there might not be very much brainpower left for things like memory. Playing “brain games” and keeping your social life intact can be really helpful but the best thing you can do is manage your hearing loss. Social engagements 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.
Make an appointment with us as soon as possible if you think you may be experiencing hearing loss.