Aging is one of the most common indicators of hearing loss, and let’s face it, try as we may, we can’t avoid aging. Sure, coloring your hair may make you look younger, but it doesn’t really change your age. But you may not be aware that several treatable health conditions have also been related to hearing loss. Here’s a look at a few examples, #2 may come as a surprise.
1. Your hearing can be impacted by diabetes
So it’s fairly well established that diabetes is linked to a higher risk of hearing loss. But why would you have a higher risk of developing hearing loss if you have diabetes? Science is at a bit of a loss here. Diabetes is known to harm the kidneys, eyes, and extremities. Blood vessels in the inner ear may, 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 underscored the connection between hearing loss and diabetes, but specifically, it found that those with uncontrolled diabetes, in other words, individuals who are not managing their blood sugar or otherwise treating the disease, suffered worse consequences. It’s significant to get your blood sugar tested if you believe you might have overlooked diabetes or are prediabetic. By the same token, if you have difficulty hearing, it’s a good idea to reach out to us.
2. Risk of hearing loss related falls increases
Why would your chance of falling go up if you have hearing loss? Even though our ears play an important part in helping us balance, there are other reasons why hearing loss may get you down (in this case, very literally). A study was carried out on individuals who have hearing loss who have recently had a fall. The study didn’t detail the cause of the falls but it did conjecture that missing important sounds, like a car honking, could be a big part of the cause. 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 result in a higher chance of falling. The good news here is that managing hearing loss could potentially decrease your risk 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 might accelerate 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 link that’s been discovered rather 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 gender: If you’re a man, 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. Two of your body’s main arteries are positioned right by your ears and it consists of many tiny blood vessels. This is one reason why individuals with high blood pressure often suffer from tinnitus, the pulsing they’re hearing is actually their own blood pumping. That’s why this type of tinnitus is called pulsatile tinnitus; you hear your pulse. The primary theory why high blood pressure can lead to hearing loss is that it can actually do physical damage to the vessels in the ears. Every beat of your heart will have more pressure if it’s pumping blood harder. That could potentially damage the smaller blood arteries inside of your ears. High blood pressure is manageable through both lifestyle changes and medical interventions. But if you think you’re dealing with hearing loss, even if you believe you’re not old enough for the age-related stuff, it’s a good move to speak with us.
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 connected. The most prevalent concept is that people with neglected hearing loss tend to retreat from social interaction and become debilitated by lack of stimulus. Another theory is that hearing loss taxes your brain. In other words, because your brain is putting so much energy into understanding the sounds around you, you may 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 clearly, social scenarios are easier to handle, and you’ll be able to focus on the essential stuff instead of trying to figure out what somebody just said.
If you’re worried that you may be suffering from hearing loss, make an appointment with us today.