Let’s face it, there’s no escape from aging, and with it often comes hearing loss. You can do some things to look younger but you’re still getting older. But you might not know that a number of treatable health conditions have also been related to hearing loss. Here’s a look at some examples, #2 may surprise you.
1. Diabetes could impact your hearing
The fact that hearing loss and diabetes have a connection is fairly well established. But why would you have a higher risk of experiencing hearing loss if you have diabetes? Well, science doesn’t have all the solutions here. Diabetes is known to harm the kidneys, eyes, and extremities. Blood vessels in the inner ear may, theoretically, be getting destroyed in a similar way. But general health management might also be a factor. A 2015 study revealed that people with overlooked diabetes had worse outcomes than people who were treating and managing their diabetes. If you are concerned that you may be prediabetic or have undiagnosed diabetes, it’s essential to talk with a physician and get your blood sugar checked. And, it’s a good plan to contact us if you think your hearing might be compromised.
2. Danger of hearing loss related falls goes up
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 hearing loss. People with hearing loss who have had a fall were the subjects of a recent study. Though this study didn’t investigate what had caused the subjects’ falls, the authors suspected that having trouble hearing what’s around you (and missing important sounds such as a car honking) could be one issue. But it might also go the other way, if difficulty hearing means you’re paying more attention to sounds than to your surroundings, it could be easy to trip and fall. The good news here is that managing hearing loss could potentially decrease your risk of suffering a fall.
3. Manage high blood pressure to protect your hearing
Multiple studies have revealed that hearing loss is associated with high blood pressure, and some have found that high blood pressure may actually hasten age-related hearing loss. This sort of news might make you feel like your blood pressure is actually rising. But it’s a connection that’s been discovered pretty consistently, even when controlling for variables like noise exposure and whether you’re a smoker. (Please don’t smoke.) The only variable that is important appears to be sex: The connection between hearing loss and high blood pressure is even stronger if you’re a man.
Your ears have a close relation to your circulatory system. Two of your body’s primary arteries run right near your ears and it contains many tiny blood vessels. This is one reason why people who have high blood pressure often suffer from tinnitus, the pulsing they’re hearing is actually their own blood pumping. That’s why this type of tinnitus is known as pulsatile tinnitus; you hear your pulse. But high blood pressure could also potentially cause physical damage to your ears, that’s the leading theory as to why it would hasten hearing loss. If your heart is pumping harder, there’s more force behind each beat. That could possibly harm the smaller blood arteries in your ears. Through medical treatment and lifestyle change, blood pressure can be managed. But even if you don’t think you’re old enough for age-related hearing loss, if you’re having trouble hearing, you should give us a call for a hearing test.
4. Hearing loss and cognitive decline
It’s scary stuff, but it’s significant to note that while the link between hearing loss and cognitive decline has been well recognized, scientists have been less successful at sussing out why the two are so strongly connected. A prevalent theory is that having difficulty hearing can cause people to avoid social situations and that social withdrawal, and lack of mental stimulation, can be incapacitating. Another concept is that hearing loss overloads your brain. In other words, because your brain is putting so much energy into comprehending the sounds around you, you may not have much energy left for remembering things like where you left your keys. Preserving social ties and doing crosswords or “brain games” could help here, 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 essential stuff instead of trying to figure out what someone just said.
Schedule an appointment with us as soon as possible if you suspect you may be experiencing hearing loss.