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

Most 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 shows a link between hearing loss and total health in older adults.

Senior citizens with hearing or vision loss frequently struggle more with depression, cognitive decline, and communication problems. You might already have read about that. But did you know that hearing loss is also connected to shorter life expectancy?

People with untreated hearing loss, according to this study, may actually have a shorter lifespan. And, the possibility that they will have difficulty undertaking activities necessary for daily life just about doubles if the individual has both hearing and vision impairment. It’s both a physical problem and a quality of life problem.

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

Why is Poor Health Connected With Hearing Loss?

Research definitely reveals a link but the accurate cause and effect isn’t perfectly understood.

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

When you know what the causes of hearing loss are, these findings make more sense. Many instances of hearing loss and tinnitus 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 a consequence of smoking – the body’s blood needs to push harder to keep the ears (and everything else) working which produces higher blood pressure. Older adults who have heart problems and hearing loss commonly experience a whooshing noise 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 think there are several reasons why the two are connected: for one, the brain needs to work harder to distinguish words in a conversation, which leaves less mental ability to actually process the words or do anything else. In other situations, lots of people who have 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 separation resulting in depression and anxiety.

How Hearing Loss Can be Managed by Older Adults

There are several solutions available to manage hearing loss in older adults, but as is shown by research, it’s smart to deal with these issues early before they impact your total health.

Hearing aids are one form of treatment that can be very effective in combating your hearing loss. There are small discreet versions of hearing aids that are Bluetooth ready and an assortment of other options are also available. Also, basic quality of life has been enhancing due to hearing aid technology. For example, they block out background noise a lot better than older versions and can be connected to cell phones, TVs, and computers to allow for better hearing during the entertainment.

In order to avoid further hearing loss, older adults can consult their physician 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. A better diet can help your other medical issues and help you have better total health.

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The site information is for educational and informational purposes only and does not constitute medical advice. To receive personalized advice or treatment, schedule an appointment.