Many people just accept hearing loss as a part of aging like reading glasses or gray hair. But a study from Duke-NUS Medical School demonstrates a link between general health and hearing loss.
Communication problems, depression, and cognitive decline have a higher occurrence in senior citizens with vision or hearing loss. You may already have read about that. But one thing you may not be aware of is that life expectancy can also be influenced by hearing loss.
This research indicates that people with untreated hearing loss might enjoy “fewer years of life”. Additionally, they found that if untreated hearing loss occurred with vision problems it nearly doubles the probability that they will have a hard time with activities necessary for daily living. It’s both a physical issue and a quality of life issue.
This might sound bad but there’s a positive: several ways that hearing loss can be addressed. Even more importantly, having a hearing exam can help expose serious health issues and inspire you to pay more attention to staying healthy, which will improve your life expectancy.
What’s The Connection Between Hearing Loss And Poor Health?
While the research is compelling, cause and effect are still unclear.
Researchers at Johns Hopkins note that other problems like greater risk of stroke and heart disease were observed in older individuals who were suffering hearing loss.
When you know what the causes of hearing loss are, these results make more sense. Many instances of hearing loss and tinnitus are linked to heart disease since the blood vessels in the ear canal are impacted by high blood pressure. When you have shrunken blood vessels – which can be due to smoking – the body needs to work harder to push the blood through which leads to high blood pressure. High blood pressure in older adults with hearing loss often causes them to hear a whooshing sound in their ears.
Hearing loss has also been linked to Alzheimer’s disease, dementia, and other types of cognitive decline. Hearing specialists and other health professionals believe there are several reasons why the two are linked: the brain has to work harder to decipher conversations and words for one, which leaves less mental capacity to actually process the words or do anything else. In other circumstances, difficulty communicating causes people who suffer from hearing loss to socialize less. There can be a serious impact on a person’s mental health from social separation resulting in anxiety and depression.
How Older Adults Can Manage Hearing Loss
There are a number of solutions available to treat hearing loss in older adults, but as is shown by research, the best thing to do is deal with the problem as soon as you can before it has more serious repercussions.
Hearing aids are one kind of treatment that can work wonders in dealing with your hearing loss. There are small discreet models of hearing aids that are Bluetooth ready and a variety of other options are also available. Additionally, hearing aid technology has been maximizing basic quality-of-life issues. For instance, they enable you to hear better during your entertainment by allowing you to connect to your phone, computer, or TV and they filter out background noise better than older models.
Older adults can also go to a nutritionist or consult with their physician about changes to their diet to help prevent additional hearing loss. There are connections between iron deficiency anemia and hearing loss, for instance, which can often be treated by adding more iron into your diet. Changes to your diet could also positively impact other health issues, leading to an overall more healthy lifestyle.