Aging is one of the most common indicators of hearing loss, and let’s face it, try as we might, we can’t avoid aging. You can take some steps 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 a few examples that might surprise you.
1. Your hearing could be affected by diabetes
The fact that hearing loss and diabetes have a link is fairly well recognized. But why would diabetes put you at an increased risk of suffering from hearing loss? Well, science doesn’t provide all the solutions here. Diabetes is known to damage the kidneys, eyes, and extremities. Blood vessels in the inner ear may, theoretically, be getting damaged in a similar way. But general health management might also be a consideration. A 2015 study found that people with neglected diabetes had worse outcomes than people who were treating and managing their diabetes. If you are worried that you might be prediabetic or have undiagnosed diabetes, it’s important to speak to a physician and have your blood sugar evaluated. And, it’s a good idea to contact us if you think your hearing might be compromised.
2. Increased risk of falling associated with hearing loss
Why would your chance of falling go up if you have hearing loss? Though our ears play an important role in helping us balance, there are other reasons why hearing loss could get you down (in this case, quite literally). Participants with hearing loss who have had a fall were the participants of a recent study. The study didn’t go into detail about the cause of the falls but it did speculate that missing essential sounds, like a car honking, could be a large part of the cause. At the same time, if you’re struggling to concentrate on the sounds around you, you may be distracted to your environment and that could also lead to a higher risk of falling. Luckily, your danger of having a fall is decreased by having your hearing loss treated.
3. Control 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 might accelerate hearing loss related to the aging process. Obviously, this is not the sort of comforting news that makes your blood pressure go down. But it’s a link that’s been discovered fairly consistently, even when controlling for variables like noise exposure and whether you’re a smoker. (Please don’t smoke.) The only variable that makes a difference seems to be sex: If you’re a male, the link between high blood pressure and hearing loss is even stronger.
Your ears have a very close relation to your circulatory system. Two of your body’s main arteries run right by your ears and it consists of many tiny blood vessels. The sound that people hear when they experience tinnitus is often their own blood pumping as a consequence of high blood pressure. When your tinnitus symptoms are due to your own pulse, it’s known as pulsatile tinnitus. The primary 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 pressure behind each beat. That could potentially damage the smaller blood arteries inside of your ears. High blood pressure is manageable through both lifestyle improvements and medical interventions. But if you think you’re dealing with hearing loss, even if you believe you’re too young for the age-related stuff, it’s a good move to talk to us.
4. Hearing loss and dementia
It’s scary stuff, but it’s important to mention that while the connection between hearing loss and cognitive decline has been well recognized, scientists have been less productive at figuring out why the two are so strongly connected. The most prevalent concept is that people with untreated hearing loss tend to withdraw from social interaction and become debilitated by lack of stimulation. Another concept is that hearing loss overloads your brain. When your brain is working extra hard to process sound, there may not be much brainpower left for things like memory. Maintaining social ties and doing crosswords or “brain games” could be helpful, but so can managing hearing loss. If you’re able to hear well, social situations are easier to deal with, and you’ll be able to focus on the essential stuff instead of attempting to figure out what someone just said.
If you’re concerned that you might be dealing with hearing loss, make an appointment with us right away.