Let’s face it, there’s no escape from aging, and with it often comes hearing loss. You can do some things to look younger but you’re still aging. But you might not know that several treatable health conditions have also been associated with hearing loss. Here’s a look at some examples, #2 might come as a surprise.
1. Diabetes can impact your hearing
So it’s fairly well recognized that diabetes is associated with a higher risk of hearing loss. But why would diabetes give you a higher risk of developing hearing loss? Well, science doesn’t have all the answers here. Diabetes is known to damage the kidneys, eyes, and extremities. Blood vessels in the inner ear might, theoretically, be getting destroyed in a similar way. But general health management may also be a factor. A 2015 study discovered that people with neglected diabetes had worse outcomes than individuals who were treating and managing their diabetes. If you are concerned that you may be prediabetic or have undiagnosed diabetes, it’s essential to talk with a physician and have your blood sugar evaluated. And, it’s a good plan 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? Although our ears play an important role in helping us balance, there are other reasons why hearing loss could get you down (in this case, quite literally). Research was conducted on individuals with hearing loss who have recently had a fall. The study didn’t go into detail about the cause of the falls but it did conjecture that missing crucial sounds, such as a car honking, could be a big part of the cause. At the same time, if you’re struggling to pay close attention to the sounds around you, you could be distracted to your environment and that may also lead to a higher danger of having a fall. Fortunately, your risk of experiencing a fall is decreased by getting your hearing loss treated.
3. Protect your hearing by treating high blood pressure
Multiple studies have revealed that hearing loss is linked to high blood pressure, and some have found that high blood pressure could actually speed up age-related hearing loss. Clearly, this isn’t the sort of reassuring news that makes your blood pressure drop. Even when variables like noise exposure or smoking are taken into account, the connection has consistently been seen. (Please don’t smoke.) The only variable that makes a difference appears to be gender: The link between hearing loss and high blood pressure is even stronger if you’re a male.
Your ears aren’t part of your circulatory system, but they’re darn close to it. Two of your body’s main arteries are positioned right near your ears and it contains many tiny blood vessels. This is one reason why individuals who have high blood pressure often suffer from tinnitus, the pulsing they’re hearing is actually their own blood pumping. That’s why this type of tinnitus is called pulsatile tinnitus; you hear your pulse. The principal theory why high blood pressure can cause hearing loss is that it can actually cause 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 possibly harm the smaller blood arteries inside of your ears. High blood pressure is manageable through both lifestyle changes and medical treatments. But even if you don’t feel like you’re old enough for age-related hearing loss, if you’re having trouble hearing, you should call us for a hearing test.
4. Hearing loss and cognitive decline
It’s scary stuff, but it’s significant to note that while the link between hearing loss and cognitive decline has been well documented, scientists have been less successful at sussing out why the two are so powerfully linked. A common theory is that having trouble hearing can cause people to avoid 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 extra hard to process sound, there may not be 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 deal with, and you’ll be able to focus on the essential stuff instead of trying to figure out what someone just said.
Make an appointment with us right away if you think you might be experiencing hearing loss.