Aging is one of the most prevalent 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 really change your age. But you may not know that a number of treatable health conditions have also been related to hearing loss. Let’s have a look at a few examples that might surprise you.
1. Your hearing could be affected by diabetes
The fact that hearing loss and diabetes have a link is pretty well established. But why would you have a higher danger of developing hearing loss if you have diabetes? Science is at a bit of a loss here. Diabetes has been known to harm the kidneys, eyes, and extremities. One theory is that the condition may impact the ears in a similar way, damaging blood vessels in the inner ear. But it could also be related to overall health management. A 2015 study revealed that people with overlooked diabetes had worse outcomes than people who were treating and managing their diabetes. If you are concerned that you might be prediabetic or have overlooked diabetes, it’s important to talk with a physician and have your blood sugar checked. And, it’s a good plan to contact us if you think your hearing might be compromised.
2. Risk of hearing loss related falls goes up
Why would your chance 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 case, very literally). A study was conducted on individuals who have hearing loss who have recently had a fall. The study didn’t go into detail about the cause of the falls but it did speculate that missing relevant sounds, like a car honking, could be a big 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 environment, it could be easy to stumble and fall. Fortunately, your danger of experiencing a fall is decreased by having your hearing loss treated.
3. Control high blood pressure to protect your hearing
Multiple studies have revealed that hearing loss is connected to high blood pressure, and some have found that high blood pressure may actually speed up age-related hearing loss. Obviously, this is not the kind of comforting news that makes your blood pressure go down. But it’s a connection that’s been discovered fairly consistently, even when controlling for variables like noise exposure and whether you’re a smoker. (Please don’t smoke.) The only variable that is important appears to be gender: The connection between hearing loss and high blood pressure is even stronger if you’re a man.
Your ears aren’t a component of your circulatory system, but they’re really close to it. In addition to the many tiny blood vessels inside your ear, two of the body’s primary arteries go right by it. This is one reason why people 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 due to your own pulse, it’s known as pulsatile tinnitus. The leading 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. That could potentially harm the smaller blood arteries inside of your ears. Through medical treatment and lifestyle improvement, 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 trouble hearing, you should contact us for a hearing test.
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 figuring out why the two are so strongly connected. A prevalent theory is that having problems hearing can cause people to avoid 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. In other words, because your brain is putting so much energy into understanding the sounds around you, you might not have much energy left for remembering things like where you put your keys. Playing “brain games” and keeping your social life active can be very helpful but the best thing you can do is treat your 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 right away if you think you may be experiencing hearing loss.