Aging is one of the most common indicators of hearing loss, and let’s face it, try as we may, we can’t avoid aging. You can do some things to look younger but you’re still getting older. But you might not know that several treatable health conditions have also been related to hearing loss. Let’s take a look at some examples that might be surprising.
1. Diabetes can impact your hearing
The fact that hearing loss and diabetes have a link is fairly well recognized. But why would diabetes give you an increased risk of suffering from hearing loss? Science is at a bit of a loss here. Diabetes is known to harm the kidneys, eyes, and extremities. Blood vessels in the inner ear may, theoretically, be getting damaged in a similar way. But general health management could also be a factor. A 2015 study that looked at U.S. military veterans underscored the connection between hearing loss and diabetes, but in particular, it found that those with uncontrolled diabetes, in other words, people who are not controlling their blood sugar or alternatively managing the disease, suffered worse outcomes. If you are worried that you might be prediabetic or have overlooked diabetes, it’s important to speak to a doctor and have your blood sugar checked. By the same token, if you have trouble hearing, it’s a good idea to contact us.
2. Risk of hearing loss related falls goes up
Why would having trouble hearing make you fall? Our sense of balance is, to some degree, regulated by our ears. But there are other reasons why falling is more likely if you have hearing loss. Research was conducted on individuals with hearing loss who have recently fallen. Although this study didn’t explore what had caused the subjects’ falls, the authors suspected that having trouble hearing what’s around you (and missing crucial sounds such as a car honking) could be one problem. But it could also go the other way, if difficulty hearing means you’re paying more attention to sounds than to your environment, it could be easy to trip and fall. Luckily, your danger of having a fall is reduced by having your hearing loss treated.
3. Manage 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 aging. 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 consideration, the connection has persistently been seen. (Please don’t smoke.) The only variable that is important seems to be sex: 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. Along with the many tiny blood vessels inside your ear, two of the body’s main arteries run right by it. This is one reason why people with 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 possibly cause physical damage to your ears, that’s the leading theory as to why it would accelerate hearing loss. If your heart is pumping harder, there’s more pressure behind each beat. The little 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 suspect you’re dealing with 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
Even though a strong connection between mental decline and hearing loss has been well established, scientists are still not altogether certain what the link is. A common theory is that having problems hearing can cause people to stay away from social situations and that social withdrawal, and lack of cognitive 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 may not be very much brainpower left for things like memory. Preserving social ties and doing crosswords or “brain games” could be helpful, 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.
Make an appointment with us as soon as possible if you suspect you may be experiencing hearing loss.