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 actually change your age. But you might not be aware that numerous treatable health conditions have also been related to hearing loss. Let’s take a look at some examples that may surprise you.
1. Your hearing can be affected by diabetes
So it’s pretty well established that diabetes is associated with a higher danger of hearing loss. But why would diabetes put you at an increased risk of experiencing hearing loss? Science is at a bit of a loss here. Diabetes is connected 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 might affect the ears in a similar way, damaging blood vessels in the inner ear. But overall health management might also be a factor. A 2015 study revealed that people with overlooked diabetes had worse outcomes than individuals who were treating and managing their diabetes. If you are worried that you might be prediabetic or have undiagnosed diabetes, it’s important to talk with a physician and get your blood sugar screened. And, it’s a good idea to call us if you think your hearing may be compromised.
2. Increased danger of falling associated with hearing loss
Why would having difficulty hearing make you fall? Though our ears play an important part in helping us balance, there are other reasons why hearing loss could get you down (in this instance, quite literally). Research was conducted on individuals with hearing loss who have recently fallen. Although this study didn’t explore the cause of 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. At the same time, if you’re working hard to concentrate on the sounds around you, you may be distracted to your environment and that may also lead to a higher danger of having a fall. Fortunately, your danger of having a fall is decreased by getting your hearing loss treated.
3. Treat high blood pressure to protect your hearing
High blood pressure and hearing loss have been closely linked in some studies indicating that high blood pressure may accelerate hearing loss due to aging. Obviously, this is not the sort of reassuring news that makes your blood pressure go down. But it’s a connection that’s been found rather consistently, even when controlling for variables like noise exposure and whether you’re a smoker. (Please don’t smoke.) Gender appears 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 have a close relation to your circulatory system. Two of your body’s main arteries are positioned right by your ears and it consists of many tiny blood vessels. 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. That’s why this kind of tinnitus is known as pulsatile tinnitus; you hear your pulse. The primary theory why high blood pressure can lead to 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 possibly be damaged as a consequence. High blood pressure is manageable through both lifestyle changes and medical interventions. But even if you don’t think you’re old enough for age-related hearing loss, if you’re having difficulty hearing, you should call us for a hearing test.
4. Hearing loss and dementia
Even though a powerful connection between cognitive decline and hearing loss has been well established, scientists are still not altogether certain what the link is. A prevalent idea is that having problems hearing can cause people to stay away from social situations and that social withdrawal, and lack of cognitive stimulation, can be debilitating. The stress of hearing loss overloading the brain is another idea. 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 left your keys. Preserving social ties and doing crosswords or “brain games” could be beneficial, but so can managing hearing loss. If you’re able to hear clearly, social situations are easier to deal with, and you’ll be able to focus on the important stuff instead of trying to figure out what somebody just said.
If you’re concerned that you may be experiencing hearing loss, schedule an appointment with us right away.