Many people just accept hearing loss as a part of aging like gray hair or reading glasses. But a study from Duke-NUS Medical School shows a link between hearing loss and general health in older adults.
Communication troubles, depression, and cognitive decline have a higher occurrence in older people with vision or hearing loss. That’s something you might have already read about. But one thing you may not recognize is that life expectancy can also be influenced by hearing loss.
People with neglected hearing loss, according to this study, might actually have a shorter lifespan. Additionally, they discovered that if untreated hearing loss occurred with vision impairments it just about doubles the probability that they will have a hard time with activities necessary for daily living. It’s an issue that is both a physical 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, getting tested can help expose major health issues and spark you to take better care of yourself, which will increase your life expectancy.
What’s The Link Between Hearing Loss And Poor Health?
While the research is interesting, 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 people who had hearing loss.
These results make sense when you understand more about the causes of hearing loss. Many instances of hearing loss and tinnitus are tied to heart disease since high blood pressure impacts the blood vessels in the ear canal. When you have shrunken blood vessels – which can be due to smoking – the blood in the body needs to push harder to keep the ears (and everything else) working which brings about higher blood pressure. Older adults who have heart problems and hearing loss commonly experience a whooshing noise in their ears, which can be caused by high blood pressure.
Hearing loss has also been linked to dementia, Alzheimer’s disease, and other forms of cognitive decline. There are numerous reasons for the two to be linked according to health professionals and hearing specialists: the brain has to work harder to understand conversations and words for one, which taps out the brain’s ability to do anything else. In other situations, difficulty communicating causes people who suffer from hearing loss to socialize less. There can be an extreme impact on a person’s mental health from social separation leading to depression and anxiety.
How Older Adults Can Treat Hearing Loss
There are a number of options available to deal with hearing loss in older adults, but as the studies demonstrate, it is smart to tackle these concerns early before they impact your general health.
Hearing aids are one form of treatment that can work wonders in combating your hearing loss. There are numerous different models of hearing aids available, including small, discreet models that connect with Bluetooth technology. What’s more, hearing aid technology has been enhancing basic quality-of-life challenges. As an example, they let you hear better during your entertainment by allowing you to connect to your phone, computer, or TV and they block out background noise better than older versions.
So that you can avoid additional hearing loss, older adults can consult with their doctor or a nutritionist about positive dietary changes. There are connections between iron deficiency anemia and hearing loss, for instance, which can usually be treated by adding more iron into your diet. An improved diet can help your other medical issues and help you have better overall health.