Let’s face it, there’s no escape from aging, and with it usually comes hearing loss. You can take some steps to look younger but you’re still aging. But you may not be aware that several treatable health conditions have also been related to hearing loss. Let’s take a look at a few examples that may be surprising.
1. Your hearing can be affected by diabetes
So it’s pretty well established that diabetes is connected to an increased danger of hearing loss. But why would diabetes put you at a higher risk of developing hearing loss? Well, science doesn’t provide all the solutions here. Diabetes is linked 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 destroyed in a similar way. But general health management might also be a factor. A 2015 study that looked at U.S. military veterans highlighted the link between hearing loss and diabetes, but in particular, it found that those with unchecked diabetes, in other words, people who aren’t managing their blood sugar or otherwise treating the disease, suffered worse outcomes. It’s important to get your blood sugar checked if you think you might have undiagnosed diabetes or are prediabetic. And, it’s a good plan to contact us if you think your hearing may be compromised.
2. Increased danger of falling associated with hearing loss
Why would having a hard time hearing cause a fall? Our sense of balance is, to some extent, managed by our ears. But there are other reasons why falls are more likely if you have loss of hearing. People with hearing loss who have had 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 conjecture that missing essential 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 surroundings, it could be easy to trip and fall. Luckily, your danger of experiencing a fall is decreased by having your hearing loss treated.
3. Protect your hearing by managing high blood pressure
Multiple studies have shown that hearing loss is associated with high blood pressure, and some have discovered that high blood pressure may actually hasten age-related hearing loss. Clearly, this is not the kind of comforting news that makes your blood pressure go down. Even when variables like noise exposure or smoking are taken into account, the connection has persistently been seen. (You should never smoke!) The only variable that is important appears to be sex: If you’re a man, the link between high blood pressure and hearing loss is even stronger.
Your ears have a close relation to your circulatory system. In addition to the many tiny blood vessels inside of your ear, two of the body’s main arteries go right by it. The noise that people hear when they have tinnitus is often their own blood pumping as a consequence of high blood pressure. When your tinnitus symptoms are caused by your own pulse, it’s called pulsatile tinnitus. But high blood pressure could also potentially result in physical damage to your ears, that’s the main theory as to why it would hasten hearing loss. Every beat of your heart will have more force if it’s pumping blood harder. That could possibly damage the smaller blood arteries in your ears. Through medical intervention and lifestyle improvement, blood pressure can be managed. But if you suspect you’re experiencing hearing loss, even if you think you’re too young for the age-related stuff, it’s a good move to consult with us.
4. Cognitive decline and hearing loss
Even though a powerful connection between mental decline and hearing loss has been well established, scientists are still not altogether sure what the connection is. The most prevalent theory is that people with untreated hearing loss tend to retreat from social interaction and become debilitated by lack of stimulus. 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. Playing “brain games” and keeping your social life active can be really helpful but the number one thing you can do is manage your hearing loss. If you’re able to hear clearly, social situations are easier to handle, and you’ll be able to focus on the essential stuff instead of trying to figure out what somebody just said.
If you’re concerned that you might be experiencing hearing loss, schedule an appointment with us right away.