Just like reading glasses and graying hair, 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 shows a connection between hearing loss and general health in older adults.
Senior citizens with hearing or vision loss frequently struggle more with cognitive decline, depression, and communication troubles. You may already have read about that. But did you know that hearing loss is also connected to shorter life expectancy?
People who have untreated hearing loss, according to this study, might actually have a reduced lifespan. In addition, they found that if untreated hearing loss happened with vision problems it almost doubles the likelihood that they will have a tough time with tasks necessary for daily living. It’s both a physical problem and a quality of life problem.
This might sound bad but there’s a positive: hearing loss, for older people, can be managed through a variety of means. More significantly, serious health problems can be uncovered if you have a hearing exam which could inspire you to lengthen your life expectancy by paying more attention to your health.
Why is Hearing Loss Associated With Poor Health?
While the research is compelling, cause and effect are nonetheless unclear.
Researchers at Johns Hopkins note that other issues such as greater risk of stroke and heart disease were seen in older individuals who had hearing loss.
When you understand what the causes of hearing loss are, these findings make more sense. Countless cases of tinnitus and hearing loss are linked to heart disease since high blood pressure impacts the blood vessels in the ear canal. When you have shrunken blood vessels – which can be brought on by 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 impairment 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 suspect there are several reasons why the two are linked: for starters, the brain needs to work harder to differentiate words in a conversation, which allows less mental ability to actually process the words or do anything else. In other circumstances, difficulty communicating causes people with hearing loss to socialize less. There can be a serious affect on a person’s mental health from social isolation leading to depression and anxiety.
How Hearing Loss Can be Treated by Older Adults
Older adults have a number of choices for treating hearing loss, but as is shown by research, it’s best to tackle these issues early before they impact your total health.
Hearing aids are one type of treatment that can be very effective in combating your hearing loss. There are small discreet models of hearing aids that are Bluetooth ready and a variety of other options are also available. Also, basic quality of life has been improving as a result of hearing aid technology. For example, they filter out background noise far better than older versions and can be connected to computers, cell phones, and TV’s to let you hear better during the entertainment.
In order to stop additional hearing loss, older adults can consult their physician or a nutritionist about positive dietary changes. There are links between iron deficiency anemia and hearing loss, for instance, which can often be treated by adding more iron into your diet. A better diet can help your other medical conditions and help you have better total health.