Let’s face it, there’s no escape from aging, and with it usually comes hearing loss. You can do some things to look younger but you’re still getting older. But you might not be aware that several treatable health conditions have also been related to hearing loss. Here’s a look at a few examples, #2 might surprise you.
1. Your hearing can be impacted by diabetes
So it’s fairly well recognized that diabetes is associated with an increased danger of hearing loss. But why would you have an increased risk of experiencing hearing loss if you have diabetes? Science is at somewhat of a loss here. Diabetes is linked to a wide variety of health problems, and specifically, can cause physical damage to the eyes, kidneys, and extremities. One theory is that the condition may affect the ears in a similar way, destroying blood vessels in the inner ear. But it could also be linked to general health management. A 2015 study that looked at U.S. military veterans underscored the link between hearing loss and diabetes, but in particular, it found that those with unchecked diabetes, in other words, people who aren’t managing their blood sugar or otherwise treating the disease, suffered worse consequences. It’s significant to get your blood sugar tested 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 may be compromised.
2. Risk of hearing loss related falls goes up
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 might get you down (in this instance, very literally). Research was conducted on people who have hearing loss who have recently had a fall. Although this study didn’t delve into the cause of the subjects’ falls, the authors speculated that having trouble hearing what’s around you (and missing crucial sounds like a car honking) could be one problem. At the same time, if you’re struggling to concentrate on the sounds around you, you may be distracted to your environment and that could also result in a higher chance of falling. The good news here is that treating hearing loss could potentially decrease your risk of suffering a fall.
3. Control 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 aging. Obviously, this isn’t the kind of reassuring news that makes your blood pressure drop. Even when variables such as noise exposure or smoking are taken into account, the link has persistently been found. (Please don’t smoke.) The only variable that makes a difference appears to be gender: The connection between hearing loss and high blood pressure is even stronger if you’re a man.
Your ears have a very close relation to your circulatory system. Two of your body’s primary arteries are positioned right near your ears and it consists of many tiny blood vessels. The sound that individuals hear when they experience tinnitus is frequently their own blood pumping as a consequence of high blood pressure. When your tinnitus symptoms are due to your own pulse, it’s called pulsatile tinnitus. The leading theory why high blood pressure can bring about hearing loss is that it can actually do physical damage to the vessels in the ears. If your heart is pumping harder, there’s more force behind each beat. The little arteries in your ears could potentially be damaged as a result. High blood pressure is manageable through both lifestyle improvements and medical interventions. But even if you don’t feel like you’re old enough for age-related hearing loss, if you’re having trouble hearing, you should give us a call for a hearing exam.
4. Hearing loss and cognitive decline
It’s scary stuff, but it’s important to mention that while the connection between hearing loss and cognitive decline has been well documented, scientists have been less productive at sussing out why the two are so powerfully linked. A prevalent theory is that having difficulty hearing can cause people to stay away from social situations and that social detachment, and lack of cognitive stimulation, can be incapacitating. The stress of hearing loss overloading the brain is another theory. When your brain is working overtime to process sound, there may not be much brainpower left for things like memory. Maintaining social ties and doing crosswords or “brain games” could be beneficial, but so can treating hearing loss. If you’re able to hear clearly, social situations are easier to deal with, and you’ll be able to focus on the essential stuff instead of trying to figure out what someone just said.
If you’re concerned that you might be experiencing hearing loss, make an appointment with us right away.