Let’s face it, there’s no escape from aging, and with it usually comes hearing loss. Sure, coloring your hair may make you look younger, but it doesn’t actually change your age. But you may not know that several treatable health conditions have also been related to hearing loss. Let’s have a look at a few examples that may be surprising.
1. Your hearing can be affected by diabetes
So it’s fairly well established that diabetes is linked to a higher risk of hearing loss. But why would you have an increased danger of experiencing hearing loss if you have diabetes? Science is at a bit of a loss here. Diabetes is connected to a wide range of health issues, and in particular, can cause physical harm to the eyes, kidneys, and extremities. One theory is that the condition may impact the ears in a similar way, destroying blood vessels in the inner ear. But general health management might also be a consideration. A 2015 study that looked at U.S. military veterans highlighted the link between hearing loss and diabetes, but specifically, it found that those with uncontrolled diabetes, in other words, people who are not managing their blood sugar or alternatively managing the disease, suffered worse outcomes. If you are worried that you might be prediabetic or have undiagnosed diabetes, it’s essential to talk with a physician and get your blood sugar evaluated. By the same token, if you have difficulty hearing, it’s a good idea to reach out to us.
2. Increased risk of falling associated with hearing loss
Why would having difficulty hearing cause a fall? Although our ears play an important part in helping us balance, there are other reasons why hearing loss might get you down (in this case, quite literally). A study was conducted on participants who have hearing loss who have recently fallen. The study didn’t detail the cause of the falls but it did speculate that missing essential sounds, such as 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 trip and fall. Fortunately, your risk of having a fall is reduced by having your hearing loss treated.
3. Safeguard your hearing by controlling high blood pressure
Several studies have shown that hearing loss is associated with high blood pressure, and some have found that high blood pressure might actually speed up age-related hearing loss. Obviously, this isn’t the kind of comforting news that makes your blood pressure go down. But it’s a connection 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 appears to be the only significant variable: If you’re a man, the link between high blood pressure and hearing loss is even stronger.
Your ears have a very close relation to your circulatory system. Along with the many tiny blood vessels inside of your ear, two of the body’s primary arteries run right by it. The noise that people 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 called pulsatile tinnitus; you hear your pulse. The principal theory why high blood pressure can cause 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 small arteries in your ears could possibly be damaged as a consequence. Through medical intervention and lifestyle change, it is possible to manage high blood pressure. But even if you don’t think you’re old enough for age-related hearing loss, if you’re having trouble hearing, you should give us a call for a hearing exam.
4. Hearing loss and dementia
Even though a powerful link between cognitive decline and hearing loss has been well established, scientists are still not altogether sure what the link is. A common theory 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. Another concept 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 might not have much energy left for remembering things like where you left your keys. Preserving social ties and doing crosswords or “brain games” could be beneficial, 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 essential stuff.
Schedule an appointment with us as soon as possible if you suspect you might be experiencing hearing loss.