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 getting older. But did you know that hearing loss has also been linked to health problems associated with aging that are treatable, and in some cases, preventable? Here’s a look at a few examples, #2 may surprise you.
1. Your hearing could be affected by diabetes
So it’s pretty well established that diabetes is connected to an increased risk of hearing loss. But why would diabetes give you a higher risk of experiencing hearing loss? Well, science doesn’t provide all the answers here. Diabetes has been known to damage the kidneys, eyes, and extremities. Blood vessels in the inner ear might, theoretically, be getting destroyed in a similar way. But overall health management may also be a consideration. A 2015 study discovered that individuals with overlooked diabetes had worse results than individuals who were treating and managing their diabetes. If you are worried that you may be prediabetic or have overlooked diabetes, it’s essential to talk with a physician and get your blood sugar tested. By the same token, if you have difficulty hearing, it’s a good idea to contact us.
2. Danger of hearing loss related falls increases
Why would having trouble hearing cause a fall? Our sense of balance is, to some extent, managed by our ears. But there are other reasons why falling is more likely if you have loss of hearing. Participants with hearing loss who have taken a fall were the participants of a recent study. The study didn’t detail the cause of the falls but it did conjecture that missing significant sounds, such as a car honking, could be a large part of the cause. But it might also go the other way, if difficulty hearing means you’re paying more attention to sounds than to your surroundings, it could be easy to trip and fall. The good news here is that treating hearing loss could potentially decrease your risk 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 might accelerate hearing loss related to aging. This sort of news may make you feel like your blood pressure is actually rising. 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 makes a difference appears to be gender: The connection between hearing loss and high blood pressure is even stronger if you’re a male.
Your ears have a close relation to your circulatory system. Two of your body’s main arteries run right by your ears and it contains many tiny blood vessels. This is one reason why people with high blood pressure frequently suffer from tinnitus, the pulsing they’re hearing is actually their own blood pumping. When your tinnitus symptoms are caused by your own pulse, it’s called pulsatile tinnitus. But high blood pressure could also possibly result in physical damage to your ears, that’s the primary theory behind why it would hasten hearing loss. 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. High blood pressure can be managed through both lifestyle modifications and medical interventions. 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 exam.
4. Hearing loss and dementia
Even though a strong link between cognitive decline and hearing loss has been well established, scientists are still not altogether sure what the link is. The most widespread concept is that people with untreated hearing loss often retreat from social interaction and become debilitated by lack of stimulation. Another concept is that hearing loss overloads your brain. When your brain is working overtime to process sound, there might not be very much brainpower left for things like memory. Maintaining social ties and doing crosswords or “brain games” could help here, but so can treating hearing loss. If you’re able to hear clearly, social situations are easier to handle, and you’ll be able to focus on the essential stuff instead of trying to figure out what someone just said.
If you’re worried that you might be experiencing hearing loss, make an appointment with us right away.