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 aging. But you may not be aware that several treatable health conditions have also been related to hearing loss. Here’s a look at a few examples, #2 might come as a surprise.
1. Your hearing can be affected by diabetes
The fact that hearing loss and diabetes have a connection is fairly well recognized. But why would diabetes put you at an increased risk of suffering from hearing loss? Well, science doesn’t have all the answers here. Diabetes is linked to a wide range of health problems, and in particular, can cause physical damage to the eyes, kidneys, and extremities. Blood vessels in the inner ear might, theoretically, be getting damaged in a similar way. But overall health management might also be a consideration. 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, individuals who are not controlling their blood sugar or alternatively treating the disease, suffered worse consequences. It’s important to get your blood sugar checked if you suspect you might have undiagnosed diabetes or are prediabetic. And, it’s a good plan to get in touch with us if you think your hearing might be compromised.
2. Increased risk of falling associated with hearing loss
Why would having a hard time 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. Individuals with hearing loss who have had a fall were the subjects of a recent study. Although 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 such as a car honking) could be one issue. 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 stumble and fall. The good news here is that managing hearing loss could potentially decrease your risk of having a fall.
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 might accelerate hearing loss related to the aging process. Clearly, this isn’t the kind of comforting news that makes your blood pressure drop. Even when variables like noise exposure or smoking are taken into account, the link has persistently been found. (You should never smoke!) Gender seems to be the only significant variable: If you’re a man, the connection between high blood pressure and hearing loss is even stronger.
Your ears have a very close relation to your circulatory system. Along with the many tiny blood vessels inside of 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. That’s why this kind 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. Every beat of your heart will have more pressure if it’s pumping blood harder. That could potentially damage the smaller blood arteries in your ears. Through medical intervention and lifestyle change, blood pressure can be managed. But if you suspect you’re experiencing hearing loss, even if you believe you’re not old enough for the age-related stuff, it’s a good idea to speak with us.
4. Hearing loss and dementia
It’s scary stuff, but it’s significant to mention that while the link between hearing loss and cognitive decline has been well documented, scientists have been less productive at figuring out why the two are so powerfully connected. A common theory is that having difficulty hearing can cause people to stay away from social situations and that social withdrawal, and lack of cognitive stimulation, can be debilitating. 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 number one thing you can do is treat your hearing loss. If you’re able to hear clearly, social scenarios are easier to handle, and you’ll be able to focus on the important stuff instead of attempting to figure out what somebody just said.
Schedule an appointment with us as soon as possible if you suspect you may be experiencing hearing loss.