Hearing Health Blog

Woman improving her life expectancy by wearing hearing aids and working out is outside on a pier.

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 demonstrates a link between general health and hearing loss.

Communication troubles, depression, and cognitive decline have a higher occurrence in older people with vision or hearing loss. You might have already read about that. But one thing you might not be aware of is that life expectancy can also be affected by hearing loss.

This study shows that those with untreated hearing loss may enjoy “fewer years of life”. And, the likelihood that they will have a hard time performing tasks necessary for daily life almost doubles if the individual has both hearing and vision impairment. It’s both a physical problem and a quality of life issue.

While this may sound like bad news, there is a positive spin: hearing loss, for older adults, can be managed through a variety of methods. Even more significantly, getting tested can help uncover serious health problems and inspire you to pay more attention to staying healthy, which will improve your life expectancy.

Why is Hearing Loss Connected With Poor Health?

Research undoubtedly reveals a link but the exact cause and effect isn’t well known.

Researchers at Johns Hopkins note that older adults with hearing loss tended to have other issues, {includingsuch as} high rates of smoking, increased heart disease, and stroke.

When you know what the causes of hearing loss are, these findings make more sense. Countless instances of tinnitus and hearing loss 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 body has to work harder to push the blood through which results in high blood pressure. High blood pressure in older adults with hearing impairment often causes them to hear a whooshing noise in their ears.

Hearing loss has also been connected to Alzheimer’s disease, dementia, and other forms of cognitive decline. There are a number of reasons for the two to be linked according to health professionals and hearing experts: for one, the brain has to work harder to differentiate words in a conversation, which leaves less mental capacity 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 an extreme affect on a person’s mental health from social separation resulting in anxiety and depression.

How Older Adults Can Treat Hearing Loss

Older adults have a number of options for managing hearing loss, but as the studies reveal, it is smart to deal with these concerns early before they affect your overall health.

Hearing aids are one form of treatment that can be very effective in fighting your hearing loss. There are numerous different styles of hearing aids available, including small, discreet models that connect with Bluetooth technology. In addition, hearing aid technology has been improving basic quality-of-life issues. For instance, they filter out background noise a lot better than older designs and can be connected to computers, cell phones, and TV’s to allow for better hearing during the entertainment.

Older adults can also visit a nutritionist or consult with their physician about changes to their diet to help prevent further hearing loss. There are links between iron deficiency anemia and hearing loss, for example, which can usually be treated by adding more iron into your diet. Changes to your diet could also positively affect other health issues, leading to an overall more healthy lifestyle.

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