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Most people just accept hearing loss as a part of getting old like gray hair or reading glasses. But a study from Duke-NUS Medical School reveals a link between general health and hearing loss.

Communication problems, cognitive decline, and depression have a higher occurrence in senior citizens with vision or hearing loss. That’s something you may have already read about. But one thing you might not be aware of is that life expectancy can also be influenced by hearing loss.

People with neglected hearing loss, according to this study, might actually have a reduced lifespan. And, the possibility that they will have a hard time performing activities needed for daily life nearly doubles if the person has both hearing and vision impairment. It’s a problem that is both a physical and a quality of life issue.

While this may sound like bad news, there is a silver lining: hearing loss, for older adults, can be managed through a variety of methods. More significantly, serious health issues can be revealed if you have a hearing exam which could inspire you to lengthen your life expectancy by paying more attention to your health.

Why is Hearing Loss Linked With Poor Health?

Research certainly reveals a connection but the accurate cause and effect isn’t well known.

Researchers at Johns Hopkins note that other problems like greater risk of stroke and heart disease were observed in older individuals who had hearing loss.

These results make sense when you know more about the causes of hearing loss. Many cases of tinnitus and hearing loss are tied to heart disease since high blood pressure impacts the blood vessels in the ear canal. When the blood vessels are shrunken – which can be due to smoking – the blood in the body has to push harder to keep the ears (and everything else) functioning which produces higher blood pressure. High blood pressure in older adults with hearing impairment frequently causes them to hear a whooshing noise in their ears.

Hearing loss has also been connected to dementia, Alzheimer’s disease, and other forms of cognitive decline. There are numerous reasons for the two to be connected according to health care professionals and hearing specialists: for starters, the brain needs to work harder to differentiate words in a conversation, which allows less mental capacity to actually process the words or do anything else. In other scenarios, difficulty communicating causes people who suffer from hearing loss to be less social. This social separation leads to anxiety and depression, which can have an extreme impact on a person’s mental health.

How Older Adults Can Treat Hearing Loss

Older adults have a few options for treating hearing loss, but as is revealed by research, it is smart to tackle these concerns early before they impact your general health.

Hearing aids are one kind of treatment that can work wonders in fighting your hearing loss. There are small discreet models of hearing aids that are Bluetooth ready and an assortment of other options are also available. What’s more, hearing aid technology has been improving basic quality-of-life issues. For instance, they filter out background sound a lot better than older versions and can be connected to computers, cell phones, and TV’s to allow for better hearing during the entertainment.

Older adults can also visit a nutritionist or consult with their primary care physician about changes to their diet to help counter additional hearing loss. There are connections between iron deficiency anemia and hearing loss, for instance, which can frequently be treated by adding more iron into your diet. Changes to your diet could also positively impact other health conditions, resulting in an overall more healthy lifestyle.

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