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 take a look at a few examples that might be surprising.
1. Your hearing could be impacted by diabetes
So it’s fairly well established that diabetes is connected to an increased danger of hearing loss. But why would diabetes put you at an increased risk of experiencing hearing loss? Well, science doesn’t have all the answers here. Diabetes has been known to harm the kidneys, eyes, and extremities. One theory is that the condition may affect the ears in a similar way, damaging blood vessels in the inner ear. But general health management may also be a factor. A 2015 study that looked at U.S. military veterans underscored the link between hearing loss and diabetes, but in particular, it found that those with unchecked diabetes, in other words, individuals who are not controlling their blood sugar or alternatively managing the disease, suffered worse outcomes. If you are worried that you may be prediabetic or have overlooked diabetes, it’s essential to speak to a doctor and get your blood sugar checked. And, it’s a good idea to contact us if you think your hearing may be compromised.
2. Risk of hearing loss related falls increases
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 loss of hearing. Participants with hearing loss who have had a fall were the subjects of a recent study. Though this study didn’t explore the cause of the subjects’ falls, the authors suspected that having difficulty hearing what’s around you (and missing crucial sounds such as a car honking) could be one problem. At the same time, if you’re working hard to concentrate on the sounds nearby, you may be distracted to your environment and that may also result in a higher risk of falling. The good news here is that treating hearing loss could potentially decrease your risk of having a fall.
3. Safeguard your hearing by managing high blood pressure
Several studies have revealed that hearing loss is connected to high blood pressure, and some have discovered that high blood pressure could actually accelerate age-related hearing loss. This kind of news may make you feel like your blood pressure is actually going up. But it’s a link that’s been found rather consistently, even when controlling for variables such as noise exposure and whether you’re a smoker. (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 aren’t part of your circulatory system, but they’re really close to it. Along with the many tiny blood vessels inside of your ear, two of the body’s primary arteries go right by it. This is one reason why people who have high blood pressure often experience 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. But high blood pressure could also possibly cause physical harm to your ears, that’s the leading theory as to why it would hasten hearing loss. If your heart is pumping harder, there’s more pressure behind each beat. The small arteries in your ears could potentially be harmed as a consequence. Through medical treatment and lifestyle change, blood pressure can be managed. But if you think you’re dealing with hearing loss, even if you think you’re not old enough for the age-related stuff, it’s a good move to speak with us.
4. Dementia and hearing loss
Even though a strong link between mental decline and hearing loss has been well established, scientists are still not altogether certain what the link is. A prevalent theory is that having difficulty hearing can cause people to stay away from social situations and that social detachment, and lack of cognitive stimulation, can be debilitating. 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 really helpful but the best thing you can do is manage your hearing loss. If you’re able to hear well, social scenarios are easier to handle, and you’ll be able to focus on the essential stuff instead of trying to figure out what someone just said.
If you’re worried that you might be experiencing hearing loss, schedule an appointment with us today.