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

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

Communication problems, depression, and cognitive decline have a higher occurrence in older people with vision or hearing loss. You might already have read about that. But did you know that hearing loss is also connected to shorter life expectancy?

People who have untreated hearing loss, according to this research, might actually have a reduced lifespan. What’s more, they found that if untreated hearing loss occurred with vision problems it just about doubles the likelihood that they will have a hard time with tasks necessary for day-to-day living. It’s a problem that is both a physical and a quality of life issue.

While this may sound like bad news, there is a positive spin: hearing loss, for older adults, can be treated through a variety of means. Even more significantly, having a hearing exam can help uncover serious health issues and inspire you to take better care of yourself, which will increase your life expectancy.

Why is Poor Health Connected With Hearing Loss?

Research certainly shows a connection but the specific 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 people who had hearing loss.

When you understand what the causes of hearing loss are, these findings make more sense. Countless instances of hearing loss and tinnitus are linked 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 push the blood through which leads to high 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 connected to dementia, Alzheimer’s disease, and other types of cognitive decline. There are several reasons for the two to be linked according to health care professionals and hearing experts: the brain has to work overtime to decipher conversations and words for one, which leaves less mental capacity to actually process the words or do anything else. In other situations, many people with hearing loss tend to be less social, commonly because of the difficulty they have communicating. This social separation leads to depression and anxiety, which can have a severe impact on a person’s mental health.

How Hearing Loss Can be Managed by Older Adults

There are a few options available to deal with hearing loss in older adults, but as the studies reveal, it’s best to deal with these concerns early before they affect your overall health.

Hearing aids are one kind of treatment that can work wonders in combating your hearing loss. There are small discreet versions of hearing aids that are Bluetooth ready and a variety of other options are also available. In addition, 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 versions.

In order to avoid additional hearing loss, older adults can consult with their physician or a nutritionist about positive dietary changes. There are links between iron deficiency anemia and hearing loss, for example, which can frequently be treated by adding more iron into your diet. A better diet can help your other medical issues and help you have better general health.

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