Let’s face it, there’s no escape from aging, and with it often comes hearing loss. Sure, dyeing your hair might make you look younger, but it doesn’t really 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, avoidable? Here’s a look at a few examples, #2 might come as a surprise.
1. Your hearing could be impacted by diabetes
So it’s fairly well recognized that diabetes is connected to a higher danger of hearing loss. But why would diabetes give you an increased risk of experiencing hearing loss? Science is at a bit of a loss here. Diabetes has been known to harm the kidneys, eyes, and extremities. One idea is that the condition may affect the ears in a similar way, damaging blood vessels in the inner ear. But it could also be linked to overall health management. A 2015 study that looked at U.S. military veterans underscored the connection between hearing loss and diabetes, but specifically, it found that those with uncontrolled diabetes, in other words, people who are not managing their blood sugar or otherwise treating the disease, suffered worse outcomes. It’s important to get your blood sugar tested if you suspect you might have overlooked diabetes or are prediabetic. And, it’s a good plan to call us if you think your hearing may be compromised.
2. Increased risk of falling associated with hearing loss
Why would your risk of falling increase if you have hearing loss? Though our ears play an important part in helping us balance, there are other reasons why hearing loss could get you down (in this case, very literally). Individuals with hearing loss who have had a fall were the subjects of a recent study. Though this study didn’t investigate what had caused the subjects’ falls, the authors speculated that having trouble hearing what’s around you (and missing crucial sounds like a car honking) could be one problem. 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. The good news here is that managing hearing loss could potentially decrease your danger of suffering a fall.
3. Safeguard 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 may speed up hearing loss due to the aging process. This sort of news may 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.) Gender seems to be the only appreciable variable: The connection between hearing loss and high blood pressure is even stronger if you’re a male.
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 main arteries go right by it. This is one reason why individuals 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 known as pulsatile tinnitus. The primary theory why high blood pressure can cause 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 force behind each beat. That could possibly harm the smaller blood arteries inside of your ears. High blood pressure can be managed through both lifestyle changes and medical interventions. But if you suspect you’re experiencing hearing loss, even if you feel like you’re too young for the age-related stuff, it’s a good move to consult with us.
4. Hearing loss and dementia
It’s scary stuff, but it’s important to mention that while the connection between hearing loss and cognitive decline has been well recognized, scientists have been less successful at sussing out why the two are so powerfully linked. A prevalent theory is that having problems hearing can cause people to avoid social situations and that social withdrawal, and lack of cognitive stimulation, can be debilitating. Another theory is that hearing loss overloads your brain. In other words, because your brain is putting so much energy into understanding the sounds around you, you might not have much energy left for remembering things like where you put your keys. Maintaining social ties and doing crosswords or “brain games” could help here, but so can treating hearing loss. Social situations will be easier when you can hear clearly and instead of battling to hear what people are saying, you can focus on the important stuff.
Make an appointment with us as soon as possible if you suspect you might be experiencing hearing loss.