Aging is one of the most prevalent indicators of hearing loss, and let’s face it, try as we might, we can’t escape aging. Sure, coloring your hair may make you look younger, but it doesn’t really change your age. But you might not be aware that numerous treatable health conditions have also been associated with hearing loss. Let’s take a look at some examples that might be surprising.
1. Diabetes can affect your hearing
So it’s fairly well established that diabetes is connected to a higher danger of hearing loss. But why would diabetes give you an increased 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 might, theoretically, be getting destroyed in a similar way. But it could also be connected to general health management. A 2015 study revealed that people with neglected diabetes had worse outcomes than people who were treating and managing their diabetes. It’s important to get your blood sugar checked if you think you may have undiagnosed diabetes or are prediabetic. By the same token, if you have trouble hearing, it’s a good plan to contact us.
2. Increased risk of falling associated with hearing loss
Why would having trouble hearing cause a fall? Even though our ears play an important role in helping us balance, there are other reasons why hearing loss may get you down (in this instance, very literally). People with hearing loss who have taken a fall were the participants of a recent study. The study didn’t detail the cause of the falls but it did conjecture that missing important 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 environment, it could be easy to stumble and fall. The good news here is that treating hearing loss could potentially decrease your danger of having a fall.
3. Treat high blood pressure to protect your hearing
High blood pressure and hearing loss have been closely linked in some studies indicating that high blood pressure may speed up hearing loss due to the aging process. Obviously, this isn’t the kind of comforting news that makes your blood pressure drop. Even when variables such as noise exposure or smoking are taken into consideration, the connection has consistently been found. (Please don’t smoke.) The only variable that is important appears to be gender: If you’re a male, 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. In addition to the many tiny blood vessels inside of your ear, two of the body’s primary arteries run right by it. The noise that individuals hear when they experience tinnitus is often their own blood pumping as a consequence of high blood pressure. That’s why this kind of tinnitus is known as pulsatile tinnitus; you hear your pulse. The principal theory why high blood pressure can bring about 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 pressure behind each beat. That could potentially damage the smaller blood arteries in your ears. High blood pressure can be managed through both lifestyle improvements and medical treatments. 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 dementia
It’s scary stuff, but it’s significant to mention that while the link between hearing loss and cognitive decline has been well recognized, scientists have been less productive at sussing out why the two are so strongly connected. The most widespread concept 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 comprehending the sounds around you, you may not have much energy left for remembering things like where you left your keys. Maintaining social ties and doing crosswords or “brain games” could be helpful, 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 essential stuff.
If you’re worried that you might be suffering from hearing loss, schedule an appointment with us right away.