Let’s face it, there’s no escape from aging, and with it usually comes hearing loss. Sure, dyeing your hair might make you look younger, but it doesn’t actually change your age. But you might not be aware that a number of treatable health conditions have also been associated with hearing loss. Here’s a look at a few examples, #2 may surprise you.
1. Diabetes can affect your hearing
So it’s fairly well recognized that diabetes is linked to an increased risk of hearing loss. But why would diabetes put you at a higher risk of suffering from hearing loss? Well, science doesn’t provide all the solutions here. Diabetes is connected 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 may, theoretically, be getting destroyed in a similar way. But it could also be linked to overall health management. A 2015 study that looked at U.S. military veterans highlighted the connection between hearing loss and diabetes, but specifically, it found that those with unchecked diabetes, in other words, individuals who aren’t managing their blood sugar or otherwise managing the disease, suffered worse outcomes. If you are concerned that you might be prediabetic or have overlooked diabetes, it’s important to talk with a doctor and have your blood sugar checked. And, it’s a good plan to contact us if you think your hearing may be compromised.
2. Increased risk 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 instance, very literally). A study was conducted on individuals 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 significant sounds, such as a car honking, could be a big 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 environment, it could be easy to stumble and fall. The good news here is that treating hearing loss could potentially reduce your risk of suffering a fall.
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 may speed up hearing loss due to the aging process. Clearly, this is not the kind of comforting news that makes your blood pressure drop. Even when variables such as noise exposure or smoking are taken into account, the connection has persistently been seen. (You should never smoke!) Gender appears to be the only important variable: If you’re a male, the connection between high blood pressure and hearing loss is even stronger.
Your ears aren’t part of your circulatory system, but they’re darn close to it. Along with the many tiny blood vessels inside of your ear, two of the body’s principal arteries run right by it. This is one reason why individuals who have high blood pressure frequently experience tinnitus, the pulsing they’re hearing is actually their own blood pumping. When your tinnitus symptoms are due to your own pulse, it’s called pulsatile tinnitus. The primary theory why high blood pressure can lead to hearing loss is that it can actually cause physical damage to the vessels in the ears. Every beat of your heart will have more pressure if it’s pumping blood harder. The little arteries in your ears could potentially be harmed as a result. High blood pressure is manageable through both lifestyle changes and medical treatments. But even if you don’t think you’re old enough for age-related hearing loss, if you’re having trouble hearing, you should contact us for a hearing test.
4. Cognitive decline and hearing loss
Even though a powerful connection between cognitive decline and hearing loss has been well established, scientists are still not completely certain what the connection is. The most widespread theory 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 overloads your brain. In other words, because your brain is putting so much energy into comprehending the sounds around you, you might not have much energy left for remembering things like where you left your keys. Playing “brain games” and keeping your social life intact can be very helpful but the best thing you can do is treat your hearing loss. If you’re able to hear well, social situations are easier to handle, and you’ll be able to focus on the important stuff instead of attempting to figure out what somebody just said.
Schedule an appointment with us right away if you suspect you may be experiencing hearing loss.