Much like graying hair and reading glasses, hearing loss is simply one of those things that many people accept as a part of growing old. But a study from Duke-NUS Medical School reveals a connection between hearing loss and general health in older adults.
Communication problems, depression, and cognitive decline have a higher occurrence in senior citizens with vision or hearing loss. You may have already read about that. But one thing you might not be aware of is that life expectancy can also be influenced by hearing loss.
People with untreated hearing loss, according to this research, might actually have a reduced lifespan. Additionally, they discovered that if untreated hearing loss occurred with vision problems it nearly doubles the likelihood that they will have a tough time with tasks necessary for day-to-day living. It’s an issue that is both a physical and a quality of life issue.
While this might sound like sad news, there is a positive spin: there’s a variety of ways that hearing loss can be managed. More significantly, serious health issues can be discovered if you get a hearing exam which could encourage you to lengthen your life expectancy by taking better care of yourself.
Why is Hearing Loss Linked With Inferior Health?
While the research is compelling, cause and effect are nonetheless not clear.
Researchers at Johns Hopkins note that other problems like greater risk of stroke and heart disease were seen in older people who had hearing loss.
These results make sense when you understand more about the causes of hearing loss. Countless cases of tinnitus and hearing loss are tied to heart disease since the blood vessels in the ear canal are impacted by high blood pressure. When the blood vessels are shrunken – which can be a consequence of smoking – the body has to work harder to squeeze the blood through which leads to high blood pressure. High blood pressure in older adults with hearing loss frequently causes them to hear a whooshing sound in their ears.
Hearing loss has also been connected to dementia, Alzheimer’s disease, and other forms of cognitive decline. Hearing specialists and other health professionals think there are numerous reasons why the two are connected: for starters, the brain has to work overtime to differentiate words in a conversation, which leaves less mental ability to actually process the words or do anything else. In other scenarios, difficulty communicating causes people who suffer from hearing loss to be less social. This social separation causes anxiety and depression, which can have an extreme impact on a person’s mental health.
How Older Adults Can Manage Hearing Loss
There are a few solutions available to deal with hearing loss in older adults, but as the studies demonstrate, it is smart to tackle these issues early before they impact your total health.
Hearing aids are one kind of treatment that can work wonders in combating your hearing loss. There are numerous different types of hearing aids available, including small, subtle models that connect with Bluetooth technology. What’s more, hearing aid technology has been improving basic quality-of-life issues. For example, they block out background sound far better than older models and can be connected to cell phones, TVs, and computers to let you hear better during the entertainment.
Older adults can also visit a nutritionist or talk to their primary care physician about changes to their diet to help stop additional hearing loss. There are links between iron deficiency anemia and hearing loss, for example, which can usually be treated by increasing the iron content in your diet. Changes to your diet could also positively affect other health conditions, leading to an overall more healthy lifestyle.