Aging is one of the most common indicators of hearing loss, and let’s face it, try as we may, we can’t escape aging. You can do some things to look younger but you’re still getting older. But you may not know that several treatable health conditions have also been associated with hearing loss. Let’s take a look at some examples that may be surprising.
1. Diabetes can affect your hearing
So it’s fairly well recognized that diabetes is associated with a higher danger of hearing loss. But why would diabetes put you at a higher risk of experiencing hearing loss? Science is at a bit 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 destroyed in a similar way. But it could also be related to general health management. A 2015 study revealed that people with neglected diabetes had worse outcomes than individuals who were treating and managing their diabetes. If you are worried that you might be prediabetic or have undiagnosed diabetes, it’s essential to speak to a doctor and get your blood sugar checked. By the same token, if you have difficulty hearing, it’s a good plan to contact us.
2. Increased danger of falling associated with hearing loss
Why would your risk of falling go up if you have hearing loss? Our sense of balance is, to some extent, regulated by our ears. But there are other reasons why falls are more likely if you have hearing loss. Participants with hearing loss who have taken a fall were the subjects of a recent study. The study didn’t go into detail about the cause of the falls but it did speculate that missing important 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. The good news here is that managing hearing loss could potentially reduce your danger of having a fall.
3. Protect your hearing by treating high blood pressure
Several studies have shown that hearing loss is linked to high blood pressure, and some have discovered that high blood pressure might actually hasten age-related hearing loss. Obviously, this isn’t the sort of reassuring news that makes your blood pressure drop. Even when variables such as noise exposure or smoking are taken into account, the connection has persistently been seen. (Please don’t smoke.) The only variable that makes a difference appears to be gender: If you’re a male, the connection between high blood pressure and hearing loss is even stronger.
Your ears have a close relation to your circulatory system. Two of your body’s principal arteries run right near your ears and it consists of many tiny blood vessels. This is one reason why individuals 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 the result of your own pulse, it’s known as pulsatile tinnitus. The leading theory why high blood pressure can cause hearing loss is that it can actually cause physical damage to the vessels in the ears. If your heart is pumping harder, there’s more force behind each beat. That could potentially harm the smaller blood arteries inside of your ears. Through medical intervention and lifestyle change, blood pressure can be managed. But even if you don’t feel like you’re old enough for age-related hearing loss, if you’re having difficulty hearing, you should call us for a hearing exam.
4. Hearing loss and dementia
Even though a strong link between cognitive decline and hearing loss has been well established, scientists are still not altogether certain what the link is. The most widespread theory is that people with neglected hearing loss tend to retreat from social interaction and become debilitated by lack of stimulus. Another theory is that hearing loss taxes your brain. In other words, because your brain is putting so much energy into understanding the sounds around you, you may not have much juice left for remembering things like where you put your keys. Preserving social ties and doing crosswords or “brain games” could help here, but so can treating hearing loss. Social situations will be easier when you can hear clearly and instead of battling to hear what people are saying, you can focus on the important stuff.
If you’re concerned that you might be dealing with hearing loss, make an appointment with us right away.