McDonald Hearing Services - Grand Rapids, MI

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

Just like graying hair and reading glasses, hearing loss is just one of those things that most people accept as a part of growing old. But a study from Duke-NUS Medical School shows a connection between general health and hearing loss.

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

People who have neglected hearing loss, according to this study, may actually have a reduced lifespan. And, the possibility that they will have difficulty carrying out activities necessary for daily life nearly doubles if the individual has both hearing and vision impairment. It’s both a physical issue and a quality of life issue.

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. More significantly, major health issues can be uncovered if you get a hearing exam which could encourage you to lengthen your life expectancy by paying more attention to your health.

Why is Hearing Loss Connected With Weak Health?

Research undoubtedly reveals a connection but the exact cause and effect isn’t well understood.

Researchers at Johns Hopkins note that other issues such as increased risk of stroke and heart disease were seen in older people who were suffering hearing loss.

These findings make sense when you understand more about the causes of hearing loss. Countless instances of tinnitus and hearing loss are tied to heart disease since the blood vessels in the ear canal are affected by high blood pressure. When you have shrunken blood vessels – which can be brought on by smoking – the body’s blood has to work harder to keep the ears (and everything else) functioning which brings about higher blood pressure. Older adults who have heart conditions and hearing loss often experience a whooshing sound 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. There are a number of reasons for the two to be linked according to health professionals and hearing experts: the brain needs to work overtime to decipher conversations and words for one, which taps out the brain’s capacity to do anything else. In other situations, many people who have hearing loss tend to be less social, commonly as a result of the difficulty they have communicating. This social isolation causes anxiety and depression, which can have a severe impact on a person’s mental health.

How Hearing Loss Can be Treated by Older Adults

Older adults have several options for treating hearing loss, but as the studies demonstrate, it’s best to tackle these concerns early before they affect your general health.

Hearing aids are one type of treatment that can be very effective in dealing with your hearing loss. There are numerous different models of hearing aids available, including small, subtle models that connect with Bluetooth technology. In addition, hearing aid technology has been improving basic quality-of-life challenges. For instance, they enable you to 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 consult with their doctor 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 often be treated by increasing the iron content in your diet. A better diet can help your other medical conditions and help you have better general health.

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