Hearing Health Blog

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

Just like reading glasses and graying hair, hearing loss is just one of those things that many people accept as a part of the aging process. But a study from Duke-NUS Medical School reveals a link between hearing loss and total health in older adults.

Communication troubles, cognitive decline, and depression have a higher occurrence in older people with vision or hearing loss. That’s something you might already have read about. But did you know that hearing loss is also linked to shorter life expectancy?

This study suggests that those with neglected hearing loss might enjoy “fewer years of life”. And, the possibility that they will have a hard time carrying out activities necessary for everyday life almost doubles if the person has both hearing and vision impairment. It’s both a physical problem and a quality of life problem.

While this may sound like bad news, there is a positive spin: hearing loss, for older people, can be treated through a variety of methods. Even more significantly, getting tested can help expose major health concerns and spark you to pay more attention to staying healthy, which will increase your life expectancy.

Why is Hearing Loss Associated With Inferior Health?

While the research is compelling, cause and effect are nonetheless unclear.

Researchers at Johns Hopkins note that seniors with hearing loss had a tendency to have other issues, {such assuch as} high rates of smoking, greater chance of heart disease, and stroke.

These results make sense when you understand more about the causes of hearing loss. Many cases of tinnitus and hearing loss are tied to heart disease since high blood pressure affects the blood vessels in the ear canal. When the blood vessels are shrunken – which can be caused by smoking – the body needs to work harder to squeeze 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 sound in their ears.

Hearing loss has also been linked to dementia, Alzheimer’s disease, and other forms of cognitive decline. Hearing specialists and other health care professionals believe there are several reasons why the two are connected: for one, the brain has to work overtime to distinguish words in a conversation, which saps out the brain’s ability to do anything else. In other cases, lots of people who have hearing loss tend to be less social, usually because of the difficulty they have communicating. There can be an extreme affect on a person’s mental health from social separation resulting in depression and anxiety.

How Hearing Loss Can be Managed by Older Adults

Older adults have several options for treating hearing loss, but as the studies show, the best thing to do is address the problem as soon as possible before it has more extreme consequences.

Hearing aids are one type of treatment that can work wonders in dealing with your hearing loss. There are several different models of hearing aids available, including small, discreet models that are Bluetooth ready. Also, basic quality of life has been improving due to hearing aid technology. For 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 sound better than older versions.

Older adults can also go to a nutritionist or contact their physician about changes to their diet to help stop further hearing loss. There are connections between iron deficiency anemia and hearing loss, for example, which can usually be treated by increasing the iron content in your diet. An improved diet can help your other medical conditions and help you have better general health.

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