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, dyeing your hair may make you look younger, but it doesn’t really change your age. But you may not know that several treatable health conditions have also been associated with hearing loss. Here’s a look at some examples, #2 might come as a surprise.
1. Your hearing can be impacted by diabetes
So it’s pretty well recognized that diabetes is connected to a higher risk of hearing loss. But why would you have a higher risk of developing hearing loss if you have diabetes? Science is at somewhat of a loss here. Diabetes is connected to a wide range of health problems, and in particular, can cause physical damage to the eyes, kidneys, and extremities. One theory is that the condition might impact the ears in a similar way, destroying blood vessels in the inner ear. But general health management might 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 managing their blood sugar or otherwise treating the disease, suffered worse outcomes. If you are concerned that you may be prediabetic or have overlooked diabetes, it’s essential to speak to a physician and get your blood sugar evaluated. And, it’s a good idea to get in touch with us if you think your hearing might be compromised.
2. Danger of hearing loss related falls goes up
Why would your risk of falling increase if you have hearing loss? 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, very literally). Research was conducted on participants who have hearing loss who have recently fallen. The study didn’t go into detail about the cause of the falls but it did conjecture that missing essential sounds, like a car honking, could be a large part of the cause. But it could also go the other way, if difficulty hearing means you’re paying more attention to sounds than to your environment, it could be easy to trip and fall. Luckily, your danger of experiencing a fall is reduced by getting your hearing loss treated.
3. Safeguard your hearing by treating high blood pressure
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. Clearly, this is not the sort of reassuring news that makes your blood pressure drop. Even when variables such as noise exposure or smoking are taken into consideration, the connection has persistently been seen. (Please don’t smoke.) The only variable that makes a difference appears to be gender: The connection 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 are positioned right by 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. That’s why this kind of tinnitus is called 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 harm to the vessels in the ears. If your heart is pumping harder, there’s more force behind each beat. That could potentially harm the smaller blood arteries in your ears. High blood pressure is manageable through both lifestyle modifications and medical interventions. But even if you don’t feel like you’re old enough for age-related hearing loss, if you’re having trouble hearing, you should contact us for a hearing exam.
4. Hearing loss and dementia
Even though a strong connection between cognitive decline and hearing loss has been well established, scientists are still not completely certain what the link is. The most prevalent theory is that people with untreated hearing loss tend to retreat from social interaction and become debilitated by lack of stimulation. Another theory is that hearing loss taxes your brain. When your brain is working extra hard 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 be helpful, but so can managing hearing loss. Social situations 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 worried that you may be suffering from hearing loss, schedule an appointment with us right away.