Aging is one of the most prevalent indicators of hearing loss, and let’s face it, try as we may, we can’t escape aging. Sure, coloring your hair may make you look younger, but it doesn’t actually change your age. But you may not know that numerous treatable health conditions have also been associated with hearing loss. Let’s take a look at a few examples that may surprise you.
1. Your hearing could be impacted by diabetes
So it’s pretty well established that diabetes is associated with a higher risk of hearing loss. But why would diabetes put you at an increased risk of suffering from hearing loss? Well, science doesn’t have all the solutions here. Diabetes is connected to a wide variety of health issues, and in particular, can cause physical harm to the eyes, kidneys, and extremities. Blood vessels in the inner ear may, theoretically, be getting destroyed in a similar way. But overall health management might also be a factor. 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 managing their blood sugar or otherwise treating the disease, suffered worse consequences. It’s important to get your blood sugar tested if you suspect you might have undiagnosed diabetes or are prediabetic. And, it’s a good plan to call us if you think your hearing may be compromised.
2. Increased risk of falling associated with hearing loss
Why would your chance of falling go up if you have hearing loss? Our sense of balance is, to some extent, managed by our ears. But there are other reasons why falling is more likely if you have loss of hearing. A study was conducted on people who have hearing loss who have recently had a fall. The study didn’t detail the cause of the falls but it did conjecture that missing significant sounds, like a car honking, could be a big part of the cause. But it could 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 trip and fall. The good news here is that managing hearing loss could potentially reduce your danger of having a fall.
3. Manage high blood pressure to protect your hearing
Multiple studies have shown that hearing loss is associated with high blood pressure, and some have found that high blood pressure may actually hasten age-related hearing loss. Clearly, this isn’t the kind of reassuring news that makes your blood pressure go down. But it’s a connection that’s been discovered fairly consistently, even when controlling for variables like noise exposure and whether you’re a smoker. (Please don’t smoke.) Gender appears to be the only significant variable: 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 really close to it. Along with the many tiny blood vessels inside your ear, two of the body’s primary arteries go right by it. The noise that people hear when they experience tinnitus is frequently their own blood pumping due to high blood pressure. That’s why this kind of tinnitus is known as pulsatile tinnitus; you hear your pulse. The leading theory why high blood pressure can lead to hearing loss is that it can actually do physical damage to the vessels in the ears. If your heart is pumping harder, there’s more pressure behind each beat. The little arteries in your ears could possibly be damaged as a consequence. Through medical treatment and lifestyle improvement, it is possible to manage high blood pressure. But if you suspect you’re dealing with hearing loss, even if you think you’re too young for the age-related stuff, it’s a good move to speak with us.
4. Hearing loss and cognitive decline
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 linked. A prevalent idea 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. The stress of hearing loss overloading the brain is another theory. In other words, because your brain is putting so much energy into comprehending the sounds around you, you may not have much juice left for remembering things like where you left your keys. Preserving social ties and doing crosswords or “brain games” could help here, but so can managing hearing loss. Social engagements 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 worried that you may be dealing with hearing loss, make an appointment with us right away.