Aging is one of the most prevalent indicators of hearing loss, and let’s face it, try as we may, we can’t escape aging. You can take some steps 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 come as a surprise.
1. Diabetes can impact your hearing
So it’s pretty well recognized that diabetes is connected to a higher danger of hearing loss. But why would diabetes give you a higher risk of suffering from hearing loss? Science is at a bit of a loss here. Diabetes has been known to damage the kidneys, eyes, and extremities. Blood vessels in the inner ear may, theoretically, be getting destroyed in a similar way. But general health management may also be a consideration. A 2015 study that looked at U.S. military veterans underscored the connection between hearing loss and diabetes, but in particular, it found that those with uncontrolled diabetes, in other words, people who are not managing their blood sugar or alternatively treating the disease, suffered worse outcomes. If you are concerned that you might be prediabetic or have overlooked diabetes, it’s essential to speak to a doctor and get your blood sugar evaluated. And, it’s a good plan to contact us if you think your hearing might be compromised.
2. Danger of hearing loss associated falls goes up
Why would having trouble hearing make you fall? Although our ears play an important part in helping us balance, there are other reasons why hearing loss might get you down (in this case, very literally). A study was carried out on individuals with hearing loss who have recently had a fall. The study didn’t detail 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 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 reduce your risk of having a fall.
3. Control 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 related to the aging process. Obviously, this isn’t 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 seems to be the only significant variable: The link 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 main arteries are positioned right by your ears and it contains many tiny blood vessels. This is one reason why individuals with high blood pressure often suffer from tinnitus, the pulsing they’re hearing is actually their own blood pumping. When your tinnitus symptoms are the result of your own pulse, it’s known as pulsatile tinnitus. But high blood pressure could also potentially cause physical damage to your ears, that’s the primary theory behind why it would hasten hearing loss. Every beat of your heart will have more force if it’s pumping blood harder. The little arteries in your ears could possibly be damaged as a result. High blood pressure is manageable through both lifestyle changes and medical interventions. But even if you don’t feel like you’re old enough for age-related hearing loss, if you’re having difficulty hearing, you should give us a call for a hearing test.
4. Hearing loss and dementia
It’s scary stuff, but it’s important to mention that while the connection between hearing loss and cognitive decline has been well recognized, scientists have been less productive at figuring out why the two are so powerfully linked. A common idea is that having problems hearing can cause people to avoid social situations and that social withdrawal, and lack of cognitive stimulation, can be debilitating. 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 put your keys. Playing “brain games” and keeping your social life active can be very helpful but the number one thing you can do is treat your hearing loss. Social engagements 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 might be dealing with hearing loss, make an appointment with us right away.