Aging is one of the most typical 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 actually change your age. But you may not be aware that a number of treatable health conditions have also been related to hearing loss. Let’s take a look at some examples that might surprise you.
1. Diabetes could affect your hearing
The fact that hearing loss and diabetes have a link is fairly well established. But why would diabetes put you at an increased risk of developing hearing loss? Well, science doesn’t have all the answers here. Diabetes is connected to a wide range of health problems, and specifically, can cause physical damage to the eyes, kidneys, and extremities. Blood vessels in the inner ear may, theoretically, be getting damaged in a similar way. But it could also be linked to general health management. 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 uncontrolled diabetes, in other words, people who are not controlling their blood sugar or otherwise managing the disease, suffered worse consequences. If you are concerned that you may be prediabetic or have overlooked diabetes, it’s important to speak to a physician and get your blood sugar tested. And, it’s a good idea 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 increase 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 hearing loss. A study was conducted on people who have hearing loss who have recently had a fall. Though this study didn’t delve into the cause of the subjects’ falls, the authors suspected that having difficulty hearing what’s around you (and missing crucial sounds like a car honking) could be one problem. But it might 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. Luckily, your danger of experiencing a fall is reduced by getting your hearing loss treated.
3. Treat high blood pressure to safeguard your hearing
Several studies have revealed that hearing loss is linked to high blood pressure, and some have discovered that high blood pressure might actually hasten age-related hearing loss. Clearly, this isn’t the sort of comforting news that makes your blood pressure go down. But it’s a link that’s been discovered pretty consistently, even when controlling for variables such as noise exposure and whether you’re a smoker. (Please don’t smoke.) Gender appears to be the only significant variable: The connection between hearing loss and high blood pressure is even stronger if you’re a man.
Your ears aren’t part of your circulatory system, but they’re darn close to it. In addition to the many tiny blood vessels inside your ear, two of the body’s principal arteries go right by it. The noise that people hear when they have tinnitus is often their own blood pumping due to high blood pressure. When your tinnitus symptoms are the result of your own pulse, it’s known as pulsatile tinnitus. The primary theory why high blood pressure can bring about hearing loss is that it can actually cause physical harm to the vessels in the ears. If your heart is pumping harder, there’s more pressure behind each beat. That could potentially harm the smaller blood arteries inside of your ears. Through medical intervention and lifestyle improvement, blood pressure can be managed. But even if you don’t feel like you’re old enough for age-related hearing loss, if you’re having trouble hearing, you should call us for a hearing exam.
4. Dementia and hearing loss
Even though a powerful connection between mental decline and hearing loss has been well established, scientists are still not altogether certain what the link is. The most prevalent concept is that people with neglected hearing loss often withdraw from social interaction and become debilitated by lack of stimulation. Another concept is that hearing loss taxes your brain. When your brain is working overtime to process sound, there might not be very much brainpower left for things like memory. Preserving social ties and doing crosswords or “brain games” could help here, but so can treating hearing loss. If you’re able to hear clearly, social scenarios are easier to handle, and you’ll be able to focus on the important stuff instead of attempting to figure out what somebody just said.
Make an appointment with us as soon as possible if you suspect you may be experiencing hearing loss.