Aging is one of the most prevalent indicators of hearing loss, and let’s face it, try as we might, we can’t escape aging. Sure, dyeing your hair might make you look younger, but it doesn’t really change your age. But you might not know that a number of treatable health conditions have also been related to hearing loss. Let’s have a look at some examples that might be surprising.
1. Diabetes can impact your hearing
So it’s pretty well established that diabetes is linked to an increased danger of hearing loss. But why would diabetes give you a higher risk of experiencing hearing loss? Science is at somewhat of a loss here. Diabetes is linked to a wide variety of health issues, 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, damaging blood vessels in the inner ear. But overall health management could also be a factor. A 2015 study that looked at U.S. military veterans highlighted the connection between hearing loss and diabetes, but in particular, it found that those with uncontrolled diabetes, in other words, people who aren’t managing their blood sugar or alternatively treating the disease, suffered worse consequences. It’s important to get your blood sugar checked if you believe you might have overlooked diabetes or are prediabetic. By the same token, if you have trouble hearing, it’s a good idea to contact us.
2. Danger of hearing loss related falls goes up
Why would having trouble hearing cause a fall? Our sense of balance is, to some degree, regulated by our ears. But there are other reasons why falls are more likely if you have hearing loss. Research was conducted on people with hearing loss who have recently had a fall. The study didn’t go into detail about the cause of the falls but it did conjecture that missing important sounds, such as a car honking, could be a large part of the cause. But it might also go the other way, if difficulty hearing means you’re paying more attention to sounds than to your surroundings, it could be easy to trip and fall. Fortunately, your danger of experiencing a fall is reduced by getting your hearing loss treated.
3. Protect your hearing by treating high blood pressure
High blood pressure and hearing loss have been closely linked in some studies indicating that high blood pressure may accelerate hearing loss due to the aging process. This sort of news might make you feel like your blood pressure is actually rising. But it’s a link that’s been found rather consistently, even when controlling for variables like noise exposure and whether you’re a smoker. (Please don’t smoke.) The only variable that makes a difference seems to be sex: If you’re a male, the link between high blood pressure and hearing loss is even stronger.
Your ears have a very close relation to your circulatory system. In addition to the many tiny blood vessels inside your ear, two of the body’s main arteries go right by it. This is one reason why people who have high blood pressure frequently experience tinnitus, the pulsing they’re hearing is actually their own blood pumping. That’s why this kind 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 cause physical harm to the vessels in the ears. If your heart is pumping harder, there’s more pressure behind each beat. The small arteries in your ears could possibly be harmed as a result. Through medical treatment and lifestyle change, it is possible to manage high blood pressure. But if you think you’re experiencing hearing loss, even if you think you’re not old enough for the age-related stuff, it’s a good move to talk to us.
4. Dementia and hearing loss
It’s scary stuff, but it’s important to note that while the connection between hearing loss and cognitive decline has been well recognized, scientists have been less productive at figuring out why the two are so powerfully connected. A common idea is that having trouble hearing can cause people to stay away from social situations and that social detachment, and lack of mental stimulation, can be debilitating. The stress of hearing loss straining the brain is another idea. When your brain is working overtime to process sound, there might not be much brainpower left for things like memory. Playing “brain games” and keeping your social life intact can be very helpful but the best thing you can do is manage your hearing loss. Social situations will be easier when you can hear clearly and instead of battling to hear what people are saying, you can focus on the essential stuff.
Schedule an appointment with us as soon as possible if you suspect you may be experiencing hearing loss.