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. Sure, coloring your hair may make you look younger, but it doesn’t actually change your age. But you may not be aware that numerous treatable health conditions have also been associated with hearing loss. Let’s have a look at a few examples that may be surprising.
1. Diabetes can affect your hearing
So it’s pretty well established that diabetes is linked to a higher risk of hearing loss. But why would you have a higher risk of experiencing hearing loss if you have diabetes? Science is at somewhat of a loss here. Diabetes is linked to a wide range of health issues, and specifically, can cause physical damage to the eyes, kidneys, and extremities. Blood vessels in the inner ear may, theoretically, be getting destroyed in a similar way. But it could also be related to general health management. A 2015 study found that people with neglected diabetes had worse results than individuals who were treating and managing their diabetes. It’s important to get your blood sugar checked if you think you may have undiagnosed diabetes or are prediabetic. And, it’s a good idea to get in touch with us if you think your hearing might be compromised.
2. Increased danger of falling associated with hearing loss
Why would your risk of falling increase if you have hearing loss? Even 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). Research was carried out 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 speculate that missing essential sounds, like a car honking, could be a big 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. Luckily, your risk of experiencing a fall is reduced by having your hearing loss treated.
3. Manage 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 might speed up hearing loss related to the aging process. This kind of news may make you feel like your blood pressure is actually rising. But it’s a connection that’s been found pretty consistently, even when controlling for variables such as noise exposure and whether you’re a smoker. (You should never smoke!) Gender seems to be the only significant variable: If you’re a man, the link between high blood pressure and hearing loss is even stronger.
Your ears have a very close relation to your circulatory system. Two of your body’s principal arteries run right by your ears and it consists of many tiny blood vessels. This is one reason why people with high blood pressure often suffer from 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. But high blood pressure could also potentially cause physical harm to your ears, that’s the leading theory as to why it would accelerate hearing loss. Every beat of your heart will have more force if it’s pumping blood harder. The small arteries in your ears could possibly be damaged as a result. Through medical intervention and lifestyle improvement, it is possible to manage high blood pressure. But if you think you’re experiencing hearing loss, even if you feel like you’re too young for the age-related stuff, it’s a good move to talk to us.
4. Hearing loss and cognitive decline
It’s scary stuff, but it’s important to note that while the link between hearing loss and cognitive decline has been well recognized, scientists have been less productive at figuring out why the two are so strongly connected. The most prevalent concept is that people with untreated hearing loss often retreat from social interaction and become debilitated by lack of stimulus. Another theory is that hearing loss overloads your brain. When your brain is working extra hard to process sound, there may not be much brainpower left for things like memory. Playing “brain games” and keeping your social life intact can be really helpful but the best thing you can do is treat your 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 essential stuff.
If you’re worried that you may be experiencing hearing loss, make an appointment with us today.