Let’s face it, there’s no escape from aging, and with it usually comes hearing loss. You can take some steps to look younger but you’re still aging. But you may not know that a number of treatable health conditions have also been associated with hearing loss. Here’s a look at a few examples, #2 may surprise you.
1. Diabetes can impact your hearing
So it’s fairly well recognized that diabetes is linked to an increased danger of hearing loss. But why would diabetes put you at a higher risk of suffering from hearing loss? Science is at somewhat of a loss here. Diabetes has been known to harm the kidneys, eyes, and extremities. Blood vessels in the inner ear may, theoretically, be getting damaged in a similar way. But it could also be connected to general health management. A 2015 study that looked at U.S. military veterans highlighted the connection between hearing loss and diabetes, but in particular, it found that those with unchecked diabetes, in other words, people who aren’t managing their blood sugar or alternatively treating the disease, suffered worse consequences. If you are worried that you might be prediabetic or have undiagnosed diabetes, it’s important to talk with a doctor and get your blood sugar examined. By the same token, if you have trouble hearing, it’s a good plan to reach out to us.
2. Risk of hearing loss associated falls goes up
Why would having difficulty hearing make you 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 loss of hearing. Research was carried out on participants who have hearing loss who have recently had a fall. Though this study didn’t investigate what had caused the subjects’ falls, the authors suspected that having trouble hearing what’s around you (and missing important sounds like a car honking) could be one problem. 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 trip and fall. The good news here is that managing hearing loss could potentially reduce your danger of having a fall.
3. Protect your hearing by controlling high blood pressure
High blood pressure and hearing loss have been closely linked in some studies indicating that high blood pressure might speed up hearing loss related to aging. Clearly, this isn’t the sort of reassuring news that makes your blood pressure drop. But it’s a connection that’s been discovered pretty consistently, even when controlling for variables such as noise exposure and whether you’re a smoker. (You should never smoke!) The only variable that is important seems to be gender: If you’re a man, the connection 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 main arteries are positioned right by your ears and it consists of many tiny blood vessels. The noise that people hear when they have tinnitus is often their own blood pumping as a consequence of high blood pressure. That’s why this kind of tinnitus is called pulsatile tinnitus; you hear your pulse. The primary theory why high blood pressure can cause 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. The small arteries in your ears could potentially be harmed as a consequence. Through medical treatment and lifestyle improvement, blood pressure can be managed. 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 dementia
Even though a strong connection between cognitive decline and hearing loss has been well established, scientists are still not entirely sure what the link is. A prevalent 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 incapacitating. Another theory is that hearing loss overloads your brain. When your brain is working extra hard to process sound, there might not be much brainpower left for things like memory. Playing “brain games” and keeping your social life active can be really helpful but the best thing you can do is treat your hearing loss. Social engagements will be easier when you can hear clearly and instead of struggling to hear what people are saying, you can focus on the important stuff.
Make an appointment with us right away if you think you might be experiencing hearing loss.