Let’s face it, there’s no escape from aging, and with it often comes hearing loss. Sure, coloring your hair may make you look younger, but it doesn’t actually change your age. But you may not know that several treatable health conditions have also been related to hearing loss. Here’s a look at some examples, #2 might come as a surprise.
1. Your hearing could be affected by diabetes
The fact that hearing loss and diabetes have a link is fairly well understood. But why would diabetes give you an increased risk of developing hearing loss? Science is at a bit of a loss here. Diabetes is linked to a wide variety of health issues, and specifically, can cause physical harm to the eyes, kidneys, and extremities. Blood vessels in the inner ear might, theoretically, be getting damaged in a similar way. But it could also be linked to general health management. A 2015 study that looked at U.S. military veterans highlighted the link between hearing loss and diabetes, but specifically, it found that those with uncontrolled diabetes, in other words, people who aren’t controlling their blood sugar or alternatively managing the disease, suffered worse outcomes. If you are concerned that you might be prediabetic or have overlooked diabetes, it’s important to speak to a doctor and have your blood sugar tested. And, it’s a good idea to call 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? Although our ears play an important role in helping us balance, there are other reasons why hearing loss could get you down (in this instance, quite literally). Individuals with hearing loss who have had a fall were the subjects of a recent study. The study didn’t go into detail about the cause of the falls but it did speculate that missing important sounds, like a car honking, could be a huge 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 surroundings, it could be easy to stumble and fall. The good news here is that treating hearing loss could potentially decrease your danger of having a fall.
3. Manage high blood pressure to safeguard 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. This sort of news might make you feel like your blood pressure is actually rising. But it’s a link that’s been discovered pretty consistently, even when controlling for variables such as noise exposure and whether you’re a smoker. (You should never smoke!) The only variable that makes a difference seems to be gender: 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. Along with the many tiny blood vessels inside your ear, two of the body’s primary arteries run right by it. The noise that individuals hear when they have tinnitus is frequently their own blood pumping due to high blood pressure. When your tinnitus symptoms are due to your own pulse, it’s called pulsatile tinnitus. But high blood pressure could also potentially cause physical damage to your ears, that’s the main theory as to why it would speed up hearing loss. Every beat of your heart will have more pressure if it’s pumping blood harder. That could possibly harm the smaller blood arteries in your ears. High blood pressure can be managed through both lifestyle changes and medical treatments. But if you suspect you’re dealing with hearing loss, even if you think you’re not old enough for the age-related stuff, it’s a good idea to speak with us.
4. Hearing loss and cognitive decline
It’s scary stuff, but it’s significant to mention that while the connection between hearing loss and cognitive decline has been well recognized, scientists have been less successful at figuring out why the two are so powerfully connected. The most widespread concept is that people with untreated hearing loss tend to withdraw from social interaction and become debilitated by lack of stimulation. Another theory is that hearing loss taxes your brain. When your brain is working overtime to process sound, there might not be much brainpower left for things like memory. Playing “brain games” and keeping your social life intact can be very helpful but the best thing you can do is manage 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 essential stuff.
Schedule an appointment with us as soon as possible if you suspect you may be experiencing hearing loss.