Let’s face it, there’s no getting away from aging, and with it usually 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 instances, preventable? Let’s take a look at a few examples that might be surprising.
1. Your hearing could be impacted by diabetes
The fact that hearing loss and diabetes have a connection is pretty well understood. But why would diabetes give you an increased risk of developing hearing loss? Science is at somewhat of a loss here. Diabetes has been known to damage the kidneys, eyes, and extremities. Blood vessels in the inner ear might, 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 underscored the link between hearing loss and diabetes, but specifically, it found that those with uncontrolled diabetes, in other words, people who are not controlling their blood sugar or otherwise treating the disease, suffered worse outcomes. It’s important to get your blood sugar tested if you think you might have undiagnosed diabetes or are prediabetic. And, it’s a good idea to get in touch with us if you think your hearing may be compromised.
2. Increased danger of falling associated with hearing loss
Why would having a hard time hearing cause a fall? Our sense of balance is, to some degree, regulated by our ears. But there are other reasons why falls are more likely if you have loss of hearing. Individuals 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 essential sounds, such as a car honking, could be a large part of the cause. At the same time, if you’re working hard to pay close attention to the sounds around you, you could be distracted to your environment and that could also lead to a higher chance of having a fall. The good news here is that managing hearing loss could potentially reduce your danger of having a fall.
3. Treat high blood pressure to safeguard your hearing
Numerous studies have revealed that hearing loss is associated with high blood pressure, and some have discovered that high blood pressure could actually speed up age-related hearing loss. Clearly, this is not the kind of reassuring news that makes your blood pressure go down. But it’s a connection that’s been discovered rather consistently, even when controlling for variables like noise exposure and whether you’re a smoker. (Please don’t smoke.) Gender seems to be the only important variable: The link between hearing loss and high blood pressure is even stronger if you’re a man.
Your ears aren’t a component of your circulatory system, but they’re darn close to it. Two of your body’s primary arteries run right near your ears and it contains many tiny blood vessels. This is one reason why individuals who have high blood pressure frequently experience tinnitus, the pulsing they’re hearing is actually their own blood pumping. When your tinnitus symptoms are the result of your own pulse, it’s called pulsatile tinnitus. But high blood pressure could also possibly result in physical harm to your ears, that’s the primary theory as to why it would hasten hearing loss. Every beat of your heart will have more force if it’s pumping blood harder. That could possibly harm the smaller blood arteries in your ears. Through medical treatment and lifestyle improvement, blood pressure can be managed. But even if you don’t feel like you’re old enough for age-related hearing loss, if you’re having difficulty hearing, you should call us for a hearing exam.
4. Hearing loss and cognitive decline
Even though a strong link between mental decline and hearing loss has been well established, scientists are still not completely certain what the link is. A common theory is that having difficulty hearing can cause people to stay away from social situations and that social withdrawal, and lack of mental stimulation, can be debilitating. The stress of hearing loss straining the brain is another theory. When your brain is working extra hard to process sound, there may 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 situations are easier to handle, and you’ll be able to focus on the important stuff instead of attempting to figure out what someone just said.
If you’re concerned that you may be experiencing hearing loss, make an appointment with us right away.