Let’s face it, there’s no escape from aging, and with it often comes hearing loss. 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 associated with hearing loss. Let’s take a look at some examples that might surprise you.
1. Diabetes can affect your hearing
The fact that hearing loss and diabetes have a link is fairly well recognized. But why would you have a higher risk of developing hearing loss if you have diabetes? Well, science doesn’t provide all the solutions here. Diabetes is connected to a wide range of health problems, and in particular, can cause physical harm 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 connected to overall health management. A 2015 study that looked at U.S. military veterans underscored the link between hearing loss and diabetes, but specifically, it found that those with uncontrolled diabetes, in other words, people who aren’t managing their blood sugar or alternatively managing the disease, suffered worse outcomes. It’s significant to get your blood sugar checked if you believe you might have undiagnosed diabetes or are prediabetic. And, it’s a good idea to call us if you think your hearing may be compromised.
2. Increased danger of falling associated with hearing loss
Why would having difficulty hearing make you fall? Our sense of balance is, to some extent, managed by our ears. But there are other reasons why falling is more likely if you have hearing loss. Individuals with hearing loss who have had a fall were the participants of a recent study. The study didn’t go into detail about the cause of the falls but it did speculate 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 could be distracted to your environment and that could also result in a higher risk of falling. Fortunately, your risk of experiencing a fall is decreased by getting your hearing loss treated.
3. Treat 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 may speed up hearing loss related to the aging process. This sort of news may make you feel like your blood pressure is actually rising. Even when variables like noise exposure or smoking are taken into account, the link has consistently been found. (You should never smoke!) The only variable that is important seems to be sex: If you’re a man, the link between high blood pressure and hearing loss is even stronger.
Your ears aren’t a component of your circulatory system, but they’re darn close to it. Two of your body’s principal arteries run right near your ears and it consists of many tiny blood vessels. The noise that people hear when they have tinnitus is frequently their own blood pumping as a consequence of high blood pressure. That’s why this type of tinnitus is called pulsatile tinnitus; you hear your pulse. The primary theory why high blood pressure can bring about hearing loss is that it can actually do physical harm to the vessels in the ears. If your heart is pumping harder, there’s more pressure behind each beat. That could possibly damage the smaller blood arteries in your ears. High blood pressure can be managed through both lifestyle modifications and medical treatments. But even if you don’t think you’re old enough for age-related hearing loss, if you’re having trouble hearing, you should contact us 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 recognized, scientists have been less successful at figuring 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 stimulation. Another concept is that hearing loss overloads your brain. When your brain is working overtime to process sound, there might not be very much brainpower left for things like memory. Playing “brain games” and keeping your social life intact can be really helpful but the best thing you can do is manage your hearing loss. If you’re able to hear clearly, social scenarios are easier to deal with, and you’ll be able to focus on the essential stuff instead of trying to figure out what somebody just said.
Make an appointment with us right away if you suspect you may be experiencing hearing loss.