Let’s face it, there’s no escape from aging, and with it usually comes hearing loss. Sure, coloring your hair may make you look younger, but it doesn’t actually change your age. But did you know that hearing loss has also been linked to health issues associated with aging that are treatable, and in some cases, preventable? 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 link is pretty well established. But why would diabetes give you an increased risk of suffering from hearing loss? Science is at a bit of a loss here. Diabetes is linked to a wide variety of health problems, and specifically, can cause physical damage to the eyes, kidneys, and extremities. Blood vessels in the inner ear might, theoretically, be getting damaged in a similar way. But it could also be connected to overall health management. A 2015 study that looked at U.S. military veterans underscored the connection between hearing loss and diabetes, but in particular, it found that those with uncontrolled diabetes, in other words, people who are not managing their blood sugar or otherwise managing the disease, suffered worse consequences. It’s significant to get your blood sugar checked if you think you might have undiagnosed 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. Increased danger of falling associated with hearing loss
Why would having difficulty hearing cause a fall? Our sense of balance is, to some extent, regulated by our ears. But there are other reasons why falls are more likely if you have hearing loss. People with hearing loss who have had a fall were the subjects of a recent study. The study didn’t detail the cause of the falls but it did speculate that missing important sounds, such as a car honking, could be a large part of the cause. But it could also go the other way, if difficulty hearing means you’re paying more attention to sounds than to your environment, it could be easy to stumble and fall. Luckily, your risk of having a fall is reduced by getting your hearing loss treated.
3. Control high blood pressure to safeguard your hearing
Multiple studies have shown that hearing loss is linked to high blood pressure, and some have found that high blood pressure may actually accelerate age-related hearing loss. This sort of news may make you feel like your blood pressure is actually going up. Even when variables such as noise exposure or smoking are taken into consideration, the link has consistently been seen. (You should never smoke!) The only variable that makes a difference seems to be gender: If you’re a man, the connection 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. In addition to the many tiny blood vessels inside your ear, two of the body’s principal arteries go right by it. This is one reason why people with high blood pressure often experience 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 primary theory why high blood pressure can bring about hearing loss is that it can actually cause physical damage to the vessels in the ears. If your heart is pumping harder, there’s more pressure behind each beat. The little arteries in your ears could possibly be harmed as a result. High blood pressure can be managed through both lifestyle modifications and medical interventions. But if you suspect you’re experiencing hearing loss, even if you think you’re too young for the age-related stuff, it’s a good move to talk to us.
4. Hearing loss and cognitive decline
It’s scary stuff, but it’s significant to note that while the link between hearing loss and cognitive decline has been well documented, scientists have been less successful at figuring out why the two are so powerfully linked. The most widespread theory is that people with untreated hearing loss tend to 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 extra hard to process sound, there might not be much brainpower left for things like memory. Preserving social ties and doing crosswords or “brain games” could be beneficial, but so can treating hearing loss. If you’re able to hear well, social scenarios are easier to handle, and you’ll be able to focus on the essential stuff instead of trying to figure out what somebody just said.
If you’re worried that you may be experiencing hearing loss, make an appointment with us right away.