Aging is one of the most prevalent indicators of hearing loss, and let’s face it, try as we might, we can’t escape aging. Sure, dyeing your hair might make you look younger, but it doesn’t actually change your age. But you might not know that numerous treatable health conditions have also been associated with hearing loss. Here’s a look at some examples, #2 may come as a surprise.
1. Your hearing could be impacted by diabetes
So it’s pretty well established that diabetes is linked to a higher risk of hearing loss. But why would diabetes give you an increased risk of developing hearing loss? Well, science doesn’t have all the solutions here. Diabetes has been known to harm the kidneys, eyes, and extremities. Blood vessels in the inner ear may, theoretically, be getting damaged in a similar way. But general health management could also be a factor. A 2015 study found that individuals with neglected diabetes had worse outcomes than individuals who were treating and managing their diabetes. It’s important to get your blood sugar tested if you believe you might have overlooked diabetes or are prediabetic. By the same token, if you have trouble hearing, it’s a good plan to contact us.
2. Increased danger of falling associated with hearing loss
Why would having difficulty hearing cause a 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 case, quite literally). A study was carried out on participants with hearing loss who have recently had a fall. Although this study didn’t investigate the cause of the subjects’ falls, the authors speculated that having difficulty hearing what’s around you (and missing crucial sounds such as a car honking) could be one problem. At the same time, if you’re struggling to pay close attention to the sounds around you, you could be distracted to your environment and that might also lead to a higher risk of having a fall. The good news here is that managing hearing loss could potentially decrease your risk of having a fall.
3. Protect your hearing by managing high blood pressure
Multiple studies have shown that hearing loss is associated with high blood pressure, and some have found that high blood pressure may actually speed up age-related hearing loss. This sort of news might make you feel like your blood pressure is actually going up. But it’s a link that’s been discovered fairly consistently, even when controlling for variables like noise exposure and whether you’re a smoker. (You should never smoke!) The only variable that makes a difference appears to be sex: The link between hearing loss and high blood pressure is even stronger if you’re a male.
Your ears aren’t a component of your circulatory system, but they’re really close to it. Two of your body’s principal arteries run right near your ears and it contains many tiny blood vessels. This is one reason why individuals who have high blood pressure often experience 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 result in physical damage to your ears, that’s the main theory as to why it would accelerate hearing loss. Every beat of your heart will have more pressure if it’s pumping blood harder. That could potentially damage 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 difficulty hearing, you should give us a call for a hearing test.
4. Cognitive decline and hearing loss
It’s scary stuff, but it’s significant to mention that while the connection between hearing loss and cognitive decline has been well documented, scientists have been less successful at sussing out why the two are so powerfully linked. The most prevalent concept is that people with untreated hearing loss tend to retreat from social interaction and become debilitated by lack of stimulus. Another concept is that hearing loss taxes your brain. When your brain is working extra hard to process sound, there might not be very much brainpower left for things like memory. Maintaining social ties and doing crosswords or “brain games” could be beneficial, but so can managing hearing loss. Social engagements will be easier when you can hear clearly and instead of battling to hear what people are saying, you can focus on the important stuff.
Schedule an appointment with us as soon as possible if you suspect you might be experiencing hearing loss.