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

Much like reading glasses and graying hair, hearing loss is simply one of those things that many people accept as a part of the aging process. But a study from Duke-NUS Medical School reveals a connection between hearing loss and total health in older adults.

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

This study shows that individuals with neglected hearing loss may enjoy “fewer years of life”. What’s more, they discovered that if untreated hearing loss occurred with vision problems it nearly doubles the probability that they will have a tough time with activities necessary for daily living. It’s a problem that is both a physical and a quality of life issue.

While this may sound like sad news, there is a positive spin: hearing loss, for older people, can be treated through a variety of methods. More significantly, serious health concerns can be found if you have a hearing exam which could inspire you to lengthen your life expectancy by taking better care of yourself.

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

While the research is persuasive, cause and effect are still unclear.

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

When you understand what the causes of hearing loss are, these findings make more sense. Many instances of tinnitus and hearing loss are tied 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 due to smoking – the blood in the body has to push harder to keep the ears (and everything else) working which leads to higher blood pressure. High blood pressure in older adults who have hearing loss often causes them to hear a whooshing sound in their ears.

Hearing loss has also been linked to dementia, Alzheimer’s disease, and other types of cognitive decline. Hearing specialists and other health care professionals believe there are several reasons why the two are connected: for one, the brain has to work overtime to distinguish words in a conversation, which leaves less mental ability to actually process the words or do anything else. In other circumstances, difficulty communicating causes people with hearing loss to be less social. There can be an extreme impact on a person’s mental health from social separation resulting in anxiety and depression.

How Hearing Loss Can be Managed by Older Adults

There are several options available to treat hearing loss in older adults, but as the studies reveal, the smartest thing to do is address the problem as soon as you can before it has more severe repercussions.

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, subtle models that connect with Bluetooth technology. Additionally, hearing aid technology has been improving basic quality-of-life challenges. For example, 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 noise better than older versions.

So that you can prevent additional hearing loss, older adults can consult their physician 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 increasing the iron content in your diet. An improved diet can help your other medical conditions and help you have better total health.

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