Woman improving her life expectancy by wearing hearing aids and working out is outside on a pier.

Just like graying hair and reading glasses, hearing loss is simply one of those things that many people accept as a part of the aging process. But a study from Duke-NUS Medical School reveals a link between hearing loss and total health in older adults.

Senior citizens with hearing or vision loss frequently struggle more with depression, cognitive decline, and communication problems. That’s something you may already have read about. But one thing you might not be aware of is that life expectancy can also be affected by hearing loss.

This study indicates that those with neglected hearing loss may enjoy “fewer years of life”. And, the likelihood that they will have a hard time performing activities required for everyday life almost doubles if the person has both hearing and vision impairment. It’s both a physical problem and a quality of life issue.

While this might sound like bad news, there is a silver lining: hearing loss, for older people, can be treated through a variety of means. Even more significantly, getting tested can help uncover serious health problems and inspire you to pay more attention to staying healthy, which will increase your life expectancy.

Why is Hearing Loss Linked With Weak Health?

While the research is compelling, cause and effect are still unclear.

Researchers at Johns Hopkins note that older adults with hearing loss had a tendency to have other issues, {includingsuch as} high rates of smoking, greater chance of heart disease, and stroke.

When you understand what the causes of hearing loss are, these results make more sense. Many cases of hearing loss and tinnitus are linked to heart disease since high blood pressure affects the blood vessels in the ear canal. When you have shrunken blood vessels – which can be caused by smoking – the body’s blood has to work harder to keep the ears (and everything else) functioning which results in higher blood pressure. Older adults with heart problems and hearing loss frequently experience a whooshing sound in their ears, which is usually caused by high blood pressure.

Hearing loss has also been linked to Alzheimer’s disease, dementia, and other forms of cognitive decline. There are numerous reasons for the two to be linked according to health care professionals and hearing specialists: for one, the brain needs to work overtime to differentiate words in a conversation, which saps out the brain’s capacity to do anything else. In other situations, difficulty communicating causes people who suffer from hearing loss to socialize less. This social separation leads to depression and anxiety, which can have a severe impact on a person’s mental health.

How Hearing Loss Can be Treated by Older Adults

There are several solutions available to treat hearing loss in older adults, but as is revealed by research, it is best to tackle these issues early before they impact your overall health.

Hearing aids are one kind of treatment that can be very effective in dealing with your hearing loss. There are small discreet versions of hearing aids that are Bluetooth ready and a variety of other options are also available. Additionally, hearing aid technology has been maximizing basic quality-of-life issues. For instance, they let you hear better during your entertainment by allowing you to connect to your phone, computer, or TV and they block out background noise better than older versions.

In order to avoid additional hearing loss, older adults can consult their doctor or a nutritionist about positive dietary changes. There are connections between iron deficiency anemia and hearing loss, for instance, which can usually be treated by adding more iron into your diet. A better diet can help your other medical issues and help you have better overall health.

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