Aging is one of the most common indicators of hearing loss, and let’s face it, try as we might, we can’t avoid aging. Sure, coloring your hair may make you look younger, but it doesn’t really change your age. But did you know that hearing loss has also been connected to health problems associated with aging that are treatable, and in some instances, preventable? Let’s have a look at a few examples that might be surprising.
1. Your hearing could be affected by diabetes
The fact that hearing loss and diabetes have a connection is pretty well recognized. But why would you have an increased danger of developing hearing loss if you have diabetes? Well, science doesn’t have all the solutions here. Diabetes is linked to a wide variety of health issues, and in particular, can cause physical damage to the eyes, kidneys, and extremities. One theory is that the condition may affect 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 that looked at U.S. military veterans highlighted the link between hearing loss and diabetes, but in particular, it found that those with unchecked diabetes, in other words, people who are not controlling their blood sugar or alternatively managing the disease, suffered worse consequences. It’s significant to get your blood sugar checked if you believe you may have overlooked diabetes or are prediabetic. And, it’s a good plan to call us if you think your hearing might be compromised.
2. Increased danger of falling associated with hearing loss
Why would having difficulty hearing make you fall? Although our ears play an important role in helping us balance, there are other reasons why hearing loss might get you down (in this instance, very literally). A study was carried out on people who have hearing loss who have recently had a fall. Though this study didn’t explore what had caused the subjects’ falls, the authors suspected that having trouble hearing what’s around you (and missing crucial sounds such as a car honking) could be one problem. At the same time, if you’re working hard to pay close attention to the sounds nearby, you may be distracted to your environment and that could also lead to a higher chance of falling. Luckily, your risk of having a fall is decreased by having your hearing loss treated.
3. Manage high blood pressure to safeguard your hearing
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 may make you feel like your blood pressure is actually rising. Even when variables such as noise exposure or smoking are taken into consideration, the connection has consistently been found. (You should never smoke!) Gender seems to be the only appreciable variable: If you’re a male, the link between high blood pressure and hearing loss is even stronger.
Your ears have a close relation to your circulatory system. Two of your body’s primary arteries run right by your ears and it contains many tiny blood vessels. The noise that individuals hear when they have tinnitus is often their own blood pumping as a consequence of high blood pressure. That’s why this type of tinnitus is known as pulsatile tinnitus; you hear your pulse. The principal theory why high blood pressure can bring about hearing loss is that it can actually do physical damage to the vessels in the ears. Every beat of your heart will have more force if it’s pumping blood harder. The small arteries in your ears could potentially be harmed as a consequence. High blood pressure is manageable through both lifestyle modifications and medical interventions. 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 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 entirely certain what the link is. A common idea is that having trouble hearing can cause people to stay away from social situations and that social detachment, and lack of cognitive stimulation, can be debilitating. The stress of hearing loss straining the brain is another idea. When your brain is working overtime to process sound, there may not be very much brainpower left for things like memory. Preserving social ties and doing crosswords or “brain games” could help here, but so can treating hearing loss. Social engagements will be easier when you can hear clearly and instead of battling to hear what people are saying, you can focus on the essential stuff.
If you’re concerned that you may be experiencing hearing loss, make an appointment with us today.