The Link Between Hearing Loss And Life Expectancy

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 most people accept as a part of growing old. But a study from Duke-NUS Medical School reveals a link between overall health and hearing loss.

Senior citizens with hearing or vision loss often struggle more with cognitive decline, depression, and communication troubles. You might already have read about that. But one thing you might not be aware of is that life expectancy can also be influenced by hearing loss.

This research shows that those with untreated hearing loss may enjoy “fewer years of life”. In addition, they found that if untreated hearing loss happened with vision impairments it nearly doubles the likelihood that they will have difficulty with tasks necessary for day-to-day living. It’s both a physical issue and a quality of life issue.

While this may sound like bad news, there is a silver lining: hearing loss, for older adults, can be managed through a variety of means. Even more significantly, having a hearing exam can help uncover serious health concerns and spark you to pay more attention to staying healthy, which will increase your life expectancy.

What’s The Connection Between Hearing Loss And Poor Health?

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

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

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 high blood pressure affects the blood vessels in the ear canal. When the blood vessels are shrunken – which can be due to smoking – the blood in the body needs to push harder to keep the ears (and everything else) working which results in higher blood pressure. High blood pressure in older adults with hearing loss frequently causes them to hear a whooshing noise in their ears.

Hearing loss has also been connected to Alzheimer’s disease, dementia, and other types of cognitive decline. Hearing specialists and other health care professionals suspect there are several reasons why the two are connected: for one, the brain needs to work overtime to differentiate words in a conversation, which taps out the brain’s ability to do anything else. In other circumstances, lots of people with hearing loss tend to be less social, frequently because of the difficulty they have communicating. This social isolation causes depression and anxiety, which can have a major impact on a person’s mental health.

How Older Adults Can Treat Hearing Loss

There are a number of options available to manage hearing loss in older adults, but as the studies demonstrate, the best thing to do is address the problem as soon as possible before it has more extreme consequences.

Hearing aids are one form 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 an assortment of other options are also available. Additionally, hearing aid technology has been maximizing basic quality-of-life issues. For example, they filter out background noise a lot better than older designs and can be connected to cell phones, TVs, and computers to allow for better hearing during the entertainment.

In order to avoid additional hearing loss, older adults can seek advice from their doctor or a nutritionist about positive dietary changes. There are links between iron deficiency anemia and hearing loss, for example, which can often be treated by adding more iron into your diet. Changes to your diet could also positively affect other health conditions, resulting in an overall more healthy lifestyle.

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