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 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 instances, preventable? Let’s take a look at some examples that might surprise you.
1. Your hearing could be affected by diabetes
So it’s fairly well established that diabetes is connected to an increased danger of hearing loss. But why would you have an increased risk of developing hearing loss if you have diabetes? Science is at a bit 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 overall health management might also be a factor. A 2015 study that looked at U.S. military veterans highlighted the link between hearing loss and diabetes, but in particular, it found that those with uncontrolled diabetes, in other words, individuals who are not controlling their blood sugar or alternatively treating the disease, suffered worse consequences. It’s important to get your blood sugar tested if you think you might have overlooked diabetes or are prediabetic. And, it’s a good idea to get in touch with us if you think your hearing might be compromised.
2. Danger of hearing loss associated falls increases
Why would your risk of falling go up if you have hearing loss? Even though our ears play an important role in helping us balance, there are other reasons why hearing loss might get you down (in this case, very literally). A study was conducted 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 conjecture that missing relevant sounds, such as a car honking, could be a huge part of the cause. At the same time, if you’re working hard to pay close attention to the sounds around you, you may be distracted to your environment and that might also result in a higher risk of falling. Fortunately, your danger of experiencing a fall is reduced by having your hearing loss treated.
3. Protect your hearing by treating 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 due to the aging process. This sort of news might make you feel like your blood pressure is actually rising. 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 appears to be sex: The link between hearing loss and high blood pressure is even stronger if you’re a man.
Your ears aren’t part 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 main arteries run right by it. This is one reason why people with high blood pressure often suffer from tinnitus, the pulsing they’re hearing is actually their own blood pumping. That’s why this kind of tinnitus is known as pulsatile tinnitus; you hear your pulse. The leading theory why high blood pressure can lead to 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 pressure behind each beat. The small arteries in your ears could potentially be harmed as a result. Through medical intervention and lifestyle change, blood pressure can be managed. But if you think you’re dealing with hearing loss, even if you think you’re not old enough for the age-related stuff, it’s a good idea to speak with us.
4. Hearing loss and dementia
Even though a strong connection between mental decline and hearing loss has been well established, scientists are still not altogether sure what the link is. The most widespread theory is that people with neglected hearing loss tend to retreat from social interaction and become debilitated by lack of stimulus. The stress of hearing loss straining the brain is another idea. When your brain is working extra hard to process sound, there might not be very much brainpower left for things like memory. Playing “brain games” and keeping your social life active can be very helpful but the best thing you can do is manage your hearing loss. If you’re able to hear well, social situations are easier to deal with, and you’ll be able to focus on the important stuff instead of trying to figure out what somebody just said.
Schedule an appointment with us right away if you suspect you may be experiencing hearing loss.