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 getting old like reading glasses or gray hair. But a study from Duke-NUS Medical School demonstrates a connection between hearing loss and general health in older adults.

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

People who have untreated hearing loss, according to this study, may actually have a reduced lifespan. And, the possibility that they will have difficulty undertaking activities needed for daily life almost doubles if the individual has both hearing and vision impairment. It’s an issue that is both a physical and a quality of life issue.

While this may sound like bad news, there is a positive spin: there’s a variety of ways that hearing loss can be managed. Even more importantly, having a hearing exam can help reveal major health problems and spark you to take better care of yourself, which will improve your life expectancy.

Why is Hearing Loss Associated With Weak Health?

Research undoubtedly shows a link but the specific cause and effect isn’t well known.

Researchers at Johns Hopkins note that seniors with hearing loss tended to have other problems, {likesuch as} high rates of smoking, greater chance of heart disease, and stroke.

When you understand what the causes of hearing loss are, these results make more sense. Countless instances of tinnitus and hearing loss 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 caused by smoking – the body needs to work harder to squeeze the blood through which leads to high blood pressure. Older adults with heart troubles and hearing loss often experience a whooshing noise in their ears, which can be caused by high blood pressure.

Hearing loss has also been connected to dementia, Alzheimer’s disease, and other types of cognitive decline. Hearing specialists and other health care professionals think there are several reasons why the two are linked: for one, the brain has to work overtime to differentiate words in a conversation, which taps out the brain’s capacity to do anything else. In other situations, lots of people with 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 an extreme impact on a person’s mental health.

How Older Adults Can Treat Hearing Loss

There are a number of options available to treat hearing loss in older adults, but as the studies reveal, the best thing to do is deal with the issue as soon as you can before it has more extreme consequences.

Hearing aids are one form of treatment that can be very effective in fighting your hearing loss. There are numerous different styles of hearing aids available, including small, discreet models that are Bluetooth ready. Also, basic quality of life has been enhancing as a result of hearing aid technology. For example, they block out background sound much better than older designs and can be connected to cell phones, TVs, and computers to allow for better hearing during the entertainment.

Older adults can also visit a nutritionist or contact their doctor about changes to their diet to help counter further hearing loss. There are connections between iron deficiency anemia and hearing loss, for example, which can frequently be treated by increasing the iron content in your diet. Changes to your diet could also positively impact other health issues, resulting in an overall more healthy lifestyle.

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