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

Just like graying hair and reading glasses, hearing loss is simply one of those things that most people accept as a part of the aging process. But a study from Duke-NUS Medical School demonstrates a link between total health and hearing loss.

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

People who have neglected hearing loss, according to this study, may actually have a shorter lifespan. What’s more, they discovered that if untreated hearing loss happened with vision problems it almost doubles the probability that they will have a tough time with tasks necessary for day-to-day living. It’s both a physical issue and a quality of life problem.

While this might sound like bad news, there is a silver lining: hearing loss, for older people, can be treated through a variety of means. Even more importantly, getting tested can help reveal serious health problems and inspire you to take better care of yourself, which will increase your life expectancy.

Why is Hearing Loss Connected With Poor Health?

While the research is persuasive, cause and effect are still not clear.

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

These results make sense when you know more about the causes of hearing loss. Countless cases of hearing loss and tinnitus are linked to heart disease since the blood vessels in the ear canal are affected by high blood pressure. When you have shrunken blood vessels – which can be brought on by smoking – the body needs to work harder to squeeze the blood through which leads to high blood pressure. High blood pressure in older adults who have hearing impairment often causes them to hear a whooshing noise in their ears.

Hearing loss has also been connected to Alzheimer’s disease, dementia, and other forms of cognitive decline. Hearing specialists and other health professionals suspect there are numerous reasons why the two are linked: for starters, the brain has to work overtime to differentiate words in a conversation, which allows less mental ability to actually process the words or do anything else. In other situations, lots of people with hearing loss tend to be less social, usually because of the difficulty they have communicating. There can be a severe impact on a person’s mental health from social isolation resulting in anxiety and depression.

How Older Adults Can Treat Hearing Loss

There are a few solutions available to treat hearing loss in older adults, but as the studies demonstrate, it’s smart to deal with these issues early before they impact 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 a variety of other options are also available. What’s more, hearing aid technology has been maximizing basic quality-of-life issues. For 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 sound better than older models.

So that you can stop further hearing loss, older adults can consult with their doctor or a nutritionist about positive dietary changes. There are connections 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 impact other health conditions, resulting in an overall more healthy lifestyle.

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