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 simply one of those things that many people accept as a part of growing old. But a study from Duke-NUS Medical School shows a connection between hearing loss and overall health in older adults.

Senior citizens with hearing or vision loss frequently struggle more with cognitive decline, depression, and communication problems. You may already have 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 research, might actually have a shorter lifespan. In addition, they found that if untreated hearing loss occurred with vision impairments it almost doubles the probability that they will have difficulty with tasks necessary for day-to-day living. It’s a problem that is both a physical and a quality of life concern.

While this might sound like bad news, there is a silver lining: hearing loss, for older people, can be managed through a variety of means. More significantly, major health issues can be revealed if you have a hearing exam which could inspire you to lengthen your life expectancy by taking better care of yourself.

Why is Weak Health Associated With Hearing Loss?

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

Researchers at Johns Hopkins note that other issues like greater 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 high blood pressure impacts the blood vessels in the ear canal. When the blood vessels are shrunken – which can be brought on by smoking – the body needs to work harder to squeeze the blood through which leads to high blood pressure. Older adults with heart conditions and hearing loss commonly experience a whooshing sound in their ears, which is usually caused by high blood pressure.

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: the brain needs to work overtime to understand conversations and words for one, which taps out the brain’s capacity to do anything else. In other circumstances, difficulty communicating causes people who suffer from hearing loss to be less social. There can be a severe impact on a person’s mental health from social separation leading to anxiety and depression.

How Hearing Loss Can be Treated by Older Adults

There are a few solutions available to treat hearing loss in older adults, but as the studies show, it is best to tackle these issues early before they affect your general health.

Hearing aids are one type of treatment that can be very effective in fighting your hearing loss. There are small discreet models of hearing aids that are Bluetooth ready and an assortment of other options are also available. Also, basic quality of life has been improving due to hearing aid technology. For example, they filter out background noise much better than older versions and can be connected to cell phones, TVs, and computers to let you hear better during the entertainment.

Older adults can also visit a nutritionist or contact their doctor about changes to their diet to help counter additional hearing loss. There are connections between iron deficiency anemia and hearing loss, for instance, which can often 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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