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 reveals a connection between hearing loss and total health in older adults.

Senior citizens with hearing or vision loss often struggle more with cognitive decline, depression, and communication problems. That’s something you might have already read about. But one thing you may not be aware of is that life expectancy can also be affected by hearing loss.

People who have untreated hearing loss, according to this research, may actually have a shorter lifespan. What’s more, they discovered that if untreated hearing loss occurred with vision impairments it almost doubles the probability that they will have difficulty with activities necessary for daily living. It’s both a physical problem and a quality of life issue.

This might sound bad but there’s a positive: several ways that hearing loss can be addressed. More significantly, major health concerns can be discovered if you get a hearing exam which could inspire you to lengthen your life expectancy by taking better care of yourself.

Why is Poor Health Connected With Hearing Loss?

Research certainly shows a link but the exact cause and effect isn’t perfectly understood.

Researchers at Johns Hopkins note that other problems including increased risk of stroke and heart disease were seen in older individuals who were suffering hearing loss.

When you understand what the causes of hearing loss are, these results make more sense. Many cases of hearing loss and tinnitus are linked to heart disease since the blood vessels in the ear canal are impacted by high blood pressure. When you have shrunken blood vessels – which can be brought on by smoking – the blood in the body needs to push harder to keep the ears (and everything else) functioning which results in higher blood pressure. Older adults with heart troubles and hearing loss commonly experience a whooshing noise in their ears, which can be 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 think there are numerous reasons why the two are connected: for starters, the brain has to work overtime to differentiate words in a conversation, which leaves less mental ability to actually process the words or do anything else. In other scenarios, difficulty communicating causes people who suffer from hearing loss to be less social. There can be an extreme affect on a person’s mental health from social isolation resulting in anxiety and depression.

How Older Adults Can Manage Hearing Loss

There are a few solutions available to deal with hearing loss in older adults, but as is shown by research, the smartest thing to do is address the issue as soon as you can before it has more serious consequences.

Hearing aids are one form of treatment that can be very effective in dealing with your hearing loss. There are numerous different types of hearing aids available, including small, subtle models that are Bluetooth ready. What’s more, hearing aid technology has been enhancing basic quality-of-life challenges. As an 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 noise better than older versions.

So that you can avoid 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 example, which can usually be treated by adding more iron into your diet. Changes to your diet could also positively impact other health conditions, leading to an overall more healthy lifestyle.

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