Aging is one of the most prevalent indicators of hearing loss, and let’s face it, try as we might, we can’t avoid aging. You can take some steps to look younger but you’re still aging. But you may not be aware that a number of treatable health conditions have also been associated with hearing loss. Let’s take a look at some examples that may surprise you.
1. Diabetes could affect your hearing
The fact that hearing loss and diabetes have a connection is fairly well established. But why would diabetes give you an increased risk of suffering from hearing loss? Well, science doesn’t provide all the answers here. Diabetes is known to damage the kidneys, eyes, and extremities. Blood vessels in the inner ear might, theoretically, be getting destroyed in a similar way. But overall health management might also be a factor. A 2015 study that looked at U.S. military veterans highlighted the link between hearing loss and diabetes, but specifically, it found that those with unchecked diabetes, in other words, people who aren’t controlling their blood sugar or alternatively treating the disease, suffered worse consequences. If you are worried that you might be prediabetic or have overlooked diabetes, it’s essential to speak to a doctor and get your blood sugar tested. By the same token, if you have difficulty hearing, it’s a good idea to reach out to us.
2. Danger of hearing loss related falls goes up
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 may get you down (in this case, quite literally). People with hearing loss who have taken a fall were the subjects of a recent study. The study didn’t go into detail about the cause of the falls but it did conjecture that missing significant sounds, like a car honking, could be a huge part of the cause. At the same time, if you’re struggling to concentrate on the sounds nearby, you may be distracted to your environment and that may also result in a higher chance of having a fall. The good news here is that treating hearing loss could potentially decrease your risk of having a fall.
3. Safeguard your hearing by treating high blood pressure
Multiple studies have shown that hearing loss is associated with high blood pressure, and some have discovered that high blood pressure could actually hasten age-related hearing loss. Clearly, this is not the kind of reassuring news that makes your blood pressure go down. Even when variables such as noise exposure or smoking are taken into account, the link has persistently been seen. (Please don’t smoke.) The only variable that is important seems to be sex: If you’re a man, the connection 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 main arteries are positioned right near your ears and it contains many tiny blood vessels. This is one reason why people who have high blood pressure often suffer from 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 called pulsatile tinnitus. But high blood pressure could also potentially result in physical damage to your ears, that’s the main theory behind why it would hasten hearing loss. If your heart is pumping harder, there’s more pressure behind each beat. That could possibly damage the smaller blood arteries in your ears. Through medical intervention and lifestyle improvement, it is possible to manage high blood pressure. 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. Dementia and hearing loss
Even though a powerful connection between cognitive decline and hearing loss has been well established, scientists are still not altogether certain what the link is. The most prevalent theory 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 very much brainpower left for things like memory. Preserving social ties and doing crosswords or “brain games” could help here, but so can treating 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 might be experiencing hearing loss, make an appointment with us right away.