Aging is one of the most typical indicators of hearing loss, and let’s face it, try as we might, we can’t escape aging. You can take some steps to look younger but you’re still aging. But you might not be aware that a number of treatable health conditions have also been associated with hearing loss. Here’s a look at a few examples, #2 might come as a surprise.
1. Your hearing can be affected by diabetes
So it’s fairly well recognized that diabetes is connected to a higher risk of hearing loss. But why would you have a higher risk of developing hearing loss if you have diabetes? Science is at a bit of a loss here. Diabetes is known to damage the kidneys, eyes, and extremities. One idea is that the condition may affect the ears in a similar way, damaging blood vessels in the inner ear. But it could also be linked to overall health management. A 2015 study discovered that individuals with neglected diabetes had worse outcomes than individuals who were treating and managing their diabetes. It’s significant to get your blood sugar checked if you think you might have overlooked diabetes or are prediabetic. By the same token, if you have trouble hearing, it’s a good idea to contact us.
2. Increased risk of falling associated with hearing loss
Why would your risk of falling increase if you have hearing loss? Even though our ears play an important part in helping us balance, there are other reasons why hearing loss may get you down (in this instance, very literally). Participants with hearing loss who have taken a fall were the subjects 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, such as a car honking, could be a large 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 stumble and fall. Fortunately, your risk of experiencing a fall is reduced by getting your hearing loss treated.
3. Safeguard your hearing by controlling high blood pressure
High blood pressure and hearing loss have been closely linked in some studies indicating that high blood pressure might accelerate hearing loss due to the aging process. This sort of news may make you feel like your blood pressure is actually going up. But it’s a link that’s been found rather consistently, even when controlling for variables like noise exposure and whether you’re a smoker. (You should never smoke!) The only variable that makes a difference appears to be sex: The connection 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. In addition to the many tiny blood vessels inside your ear, two of the body’s primary arteries run right by it. The sound 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 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 possibly harm the smaller blood arteries inside of your ears. Through medical intervention and lifestyle change, it is possible to manage high blood pressure. But if you think you’re experiencing 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. Cognitive decline and hearing loss
It’s scary stuff, but it’s important to mention that while the connection between hearing loss and cognitive decline has been well documented, scientists have been less productive at figuring out why the two are so strongly connected. A prevalent theory is that having problems hearing can cause people to avoid social situations and that social withdrawal, and lack of cognitive stimulation, can be debilitating. The stress of hearing loss straining the brain is another theory. In other words, because your brain is putting so much energy into understanding the sounds around you, you may not have much energy left for remembering things like where you left your keys. Playing “brain games” and keeping your social life intact can be very helpful but the number one thing you can do is manage your hearing loss. Social situations will be easier when you can hear clearly and instead of struggling to hear what people are saying, you can focus on the important stuff.
If you’re worried that you may be experiencing hearing loss, schedule an appointment with us today.