Aging is one of the most typical indicators of hearing loss, and let’s face it, try as we may, we can’t escape aging. 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 problems related to aging that are treatable, and in some instances, avoidable? Let’s have a look at a few examples that might be surprising.
1. Your hearing could be affected by diabetes
So it’s pretty well established that diabetes is linked to a higher risk of hearing loss. But why would diabetes put you at an increased risk of suffering from hearing loss? Well, science doesn’t have all the answers here. Diabetes has been known to harm the kidneys, eyes, and extremities. One idea is that the condition may impact the ears in a similar way, damaging blood vessels in the inner ear. But general health management could also be a factor. A 2015 study revealed that individuals with overlooked diabetes had worse results than individuals who were treating and managing their diabetes. It’s significant to get your blood sugar tested if you think you might have undiagnosed diabetes or are prediabetic. By the same token, if you have trouble hearing, it’s a good idea to reach out to us.
2. Danger of hearing loss associated falls goes up
Why would having trouble hearing cause a fall? 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, quite literally). People with hearing loss who have taken a fall were the subjects of a recent study. The study didn’t go into detail about the cause of the falls but it did conjecture that missing relevant sounds, such as a car honking, could be a big 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 stumble and fall. The good news here is that treating hearing loss could potentially decrease your danger of having a fall.
3. Control high blood pressure to protect your hearing
Multiple studies have revealed that hearing loss is linked to high blood pressure, and some have found that high blood pressure may actually speed up age-related hearing loss. Obviously, this isn’t the kind of reassuring news that makes your blood pressure go down. But it’s a connection that’s been discovered fairly consistently, even when controlling for variables like noise exposure and whether you’re a smoker. (You should never smoke!) The only variable that makes a difference appears to be sex: If you’re a man, the link between high blood pressure and hearing loss is even stronger.
Your ears have a very close relation to your circulatory system. Two of your body’s main arteries are positioned right near your ears and it consists of many tiny blood vessels. This is one reason why people who have 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. But high blood pressure could also potentially cause physical damage to your ears, that’s the main theory behind why it would accelerate hearing loss. If your heart is pumping harder, there’s more pressure behind each beat. That could potentially harm the smaller blood arteries inside of your ears. High blood pressure is manageable through both lifestyle improvements and medical treatments. But if you suspect you’re experiencing hearing loss, even if you believe you’re too young for the age-related stuff, it’s a good move to talk to us.
4. Dementia and hearing loss
It’s scary stuff, but it’s significant to note that while the link between hearing loss and cognitive decline has been well recognized, scientists have been less successful at figuring out why the two are so strongly linked. A common theory is that having trouble hearing can cause people to avoid social situations and that social detachment, and lack of mental 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 may not have much juice left for remembering things like where you put your keys. Preserving social ties and doing crosswords or “brain games” could be helpful, but so can managing hearing loss. Social engagements will be easier when you can hear clearly and instead of struggling to hear what people are saying, you can focus on the important stuff.
If you’re concerned that you may be experiencing hearing loss, schedule an appointment with us right away.