Aging is one of the most typical indicators of hearing loss, and let’s face it, try as we might, we can’t avoid aging. Sure, dyeing your hair might make you look younger, but it doesn’t actually change your age. 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 a few examples that might be surprising.
1. Your hearing can be affected by diabetes
So it’s pretty well recognized that diabetes is associated with an increased danger of hearing loss. But why would you have an increased danger of experiencing hearing loss if you have diabetes? Well, science doesn’t have all the answers here. Diabetes has been known to harm the kidneys, eyes, and extremities. Blood vessels in the inner ear may, theoretically, be getting destroyed in a similar way. But it could also be connected to overall health management. A 2015 study discovered that individuals with overlooked diabetes had worse outcomes than individuals who were treating and managing their diabetes. It’s important to get your blood sugar tested if you suspect you might have overlooked diabetes or are prediabetic. And, it’s a good idea to contact us if you think your hearing may be compromised.
2. Risk of hearing loss related falls goes up
Why would having a hard time hearing make you fall? Our sense of balance is, to some extent, regulated by our ears. But there are other reasons why falling is more likely if you have loss of hearing. People with hearing loss who have had a fall were the subjects of a recent study. Though this study didn’t explore what had caused the subjects’ falls, the authors suspected that having difficulty hearing what’s around you (and missing important sounds like a car honking) could be one issue. But it could 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. Luckily, your danger of experiencing a fall is decreased by having your hearing loss treated.
3. Manage high blood pressure to protect your hearing
Multiple studies have revealed that hearing loss is linked to high blood pressure, and some have found that high blood pressure might actually speed up age-related hearing loss. This kind of news may make you feel like your blood pressure is actually rising. But it’s a connection that’s been found 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 seems to be gender: The connection between hearing loss and high blood pressure is even stronger if you’re a male.
Your ears have a very close relation to your circulatory system. Two of your body’s principal arteries run right near your ears and it consists of many tiny blood vessels. This is one reason why individuals who have high blood pressure frequently 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 known as pulsatile tinnitus. But high blood pressure could also possibly result in physical harm to your ears, that’s the leading theory behind why it would hasten hearing loss. If your heart is pumping harder, there’s more force behind each beat. That could potentially harm the smaller blood arteries in your ears. Through medical treatment and lifestyle change, 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. Hearing loss and cognitive decline
Even though a strong link between cognitive decline and hearing loss has been well established, scientists are still not completely certain what the link is. A prevalent idea is that having problems hearing can cause people to avoid social situations and that social withdrawal, and lack of cognitive stimulation, can be incapacitating. The stress of hearing loss straining the brain is another theory. In other words, because your brain is putting so much energy into comprehending the sounds around you, you may not have much juice left for remembering things like where you left your keys. Preserving social ties and doing crosswords or “brain games” could be helpful, but so can managing hearing loss. Social engagements 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.
If you’re worried that you may be suffering from hearing loss, schedule an appointment with us right away.