Much like reading glasses and graying hair, hearing loss is just one of those things that many people accept as a part of growing old. But a study from Duke-NUS Medical School demonstrates a connection between total health and hearing loss.
Communication problems, cognitive decline, and depression have a higher occurrence in senior citizens with vision or hearing loss. You might have already read about that. But one thing you might not recognize is that life expectancy can also be affected by hearing loss.
People who have neglected hearing loss, according to this study, might actually have a shorter lifespan. And, the likelihood that they will have a hard time performing activities needed for everyday life nearly doubles if the person has both hearing and vision impairment. It’s an issue that is both a physical and a quality of life issue.
While this might sound like bad news, there is a positive spin: several ways that hearing loss can be addressed. Even more significantly, getting tested can help reveal major health concerns and inspire you to take better care of yourself, which will increase your life expectancy.
Why is Hearing Loss Connected With Inferior Health?
Research undoubtedly shows a link but the specific cause and effect isn’t perfectly understood.
Researchers at Johns Hopkins note that other problems like increased risk of stroke and heart disease were observed in older people who had hearing loss.
When you know what the causes of hearing loss are, these results make more sense. Many 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 push the blood through which leads to high blood pressure. Older adults who have heart troubles and hearing loss commonly experience a whooshing noise in their ears, which is usually caused by high blood pressure.
Hearing loss has also been linked to Alzheimer’s disease, dementia, and other types of cognitive decline. Hearing specialists and other health care professionals suspect there are numerous reasons why the two are linked: the brain needs to work overtime to decipher conversations and words for one, which leaves less mental ability to actually process the words or do anything else. In other scenarios, difficulty communicating causes people with hearing loss to be less social. There can be a severe affect on a person’s mental health from social isolation resulting in depression and anxiety.
How Older Adults Can Treat Hearing Loss
There are several options available to deal with hearing loss in older adults, but as the studies demonstrate, 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 combating your hearing loss. There are small discreet versions of hearing aids that are Bluetooth ready and a variety of other options are also available. Also, basic quality of life has been enhancing as a result of hearing aid technology. For example, they block out background sound much better than older models and can be connected to cell phones, TVs, and computers to allow for better hearing during the entertainment.
In order to prevent additional hearing loss, older adults can consult with their doctor or a nutritionist about positive dietary changes. There are links between iron deficiency anemia and hearing loss, for instance, which can frequently 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.