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

Much like graying hair and reading glasses, hearing loss is just one of those things that most people accept as a part of the aging process. But a study from Duke-NUS Medical School reveals a connection between overall health and hearing loss.

Senior citizens with hearing or vision loss commonly struggle more with depression, cognitive decline, and communication troubles. You might have already read about that. But did you realize that hearing loss is also linked to shorter life expectancy?

This study indicates that people with untreated hearing loss might enjoy “fewer years of life”. What’s more, they discovered that if untreated hearing loss occurred with vision problems it almost doubles the likelihood that they will have difficulty with tasks necessary for daily living. It’s both a physical problem and a quality of life problem.

This might sound bad but there’s a positive: there’s a variety of ways that hearing loss can be addressed. Even more importantly, having a hearing exam can help expose major health concerns and inspire you to pay more attention to staying healthy, which will improve your life expectancy.

What’s The Link Between Hearing Loss And Weak Health?

While the research is compelling, cause and effect are nonetheless not clear.

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

These results make sense when you understand more about the causes of hearing loss. Countless cases of tinnitus and hearing loss are linked to heart disease since high blood pressure impacts the blood vessels in the ear canal. When you have shrunken blood vessels – which can be a consequence of smoking – the body has to work harder to squeeze the blood through which leads to high blood pressure. High blood pressure in older adults with hearing loss frequently causes them to hear a whooshing sound in their ears.

Hearing loss has also been connected to dementia, Alzheimer’s disease, and other types of cognitive decline. Hearing specialists and other health care professionals believe there are numerous reasons why the two are connected: for one, the brain needs to work harder to differentiate words in a conversation, which allows less mental ability to actually process the words or do anything else. In other scenarios, difficulty communicating causes people with hearing loss to socialize less. This social separation causes depression and anxiety, which can have a major impact on a person’s mental health.

How Hearing Loss Can be Managed by Older Adults

There are a number of 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 total health.

Hearing aids are one kind of treatment that can work wonders in fighting your hearing loss. There are small discreet models of hearing aids that are Bluetooth ready and an assortment of other options are also available. Also, basic quality of life has been improving because of hearing aid technology. For instance, they let you hear better during your entertainment by allowing you to connect to your phone, computer, or TV and they filter out background noise better than older models.

Older adults can also visit a nutritionist or consult with their primary care physician about changes to their diet to help stop further hearing loss. There are connections between iron deficiency anemia and hearing loss, for instance, which can frequently be treated by increasing the iron content in your diet. Changes to your diet could also positively impact other health issues, resulting in an overall more healthy lifestyle.

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