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 connection between hearing loss and general health in older adults.

Senior citizens with hearing or vision loss frequently struggle more with cognitive decline, depression, and communication problems. That’s something you might have already read about. But did you realize that hearing loss is also linked to shorter life expectancy?

People who have untreated hearing loss, according to this study, might actually have a reduced lifespan. Additionally, they found that if untreated hearing loss happened with vision impairments it almost doubles the probability that they will have difficulty with tasks necessary for daily living. It’s both a physical issue and a quality of life problem.

While this may sound like sad news, there is a silver lining: hearing loss, for older adults, can be treated through a variety of means. More significantly, major health concerns can be revealed if you have a hearing exam which could encourage you to lengthen your life expectancy by taking better care of yourself.

Why is Hearing Loss Associated With Poor Health?

Research certainly reveals a connection but the specific cause and effect isn’t well known.

Researchers at Johns Hopkins note that older adults with hearing loss tended to have other issues, {such 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 cases of hearing loss and tinnitus are tied to heart disease since high blood pressure impacts the blood vessels in the ear canal. 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 results in high blood pressure. High blood pressure in older adults who have hearing impairment often causes them to hear a whooshing sound in their ears.

Hearing loss has also been connected to Alzheimer’s disease, dementia, and other types of cognitive decline. Hearing specialists and other health professionals suspect there are several reasons why the two are connected: the brain needs to work harder to understand conversations and words for one, which allows less mental ability to actually process the words or do anything else. In other situations, difficulty communicating causes people with hearing loss to be less social. This social isolation causes anxiety and depression, which can have a severe impact on a person’s mental health.

How Older Adults Can Treat Hearing Loss

Older adults have a number of options for managing hearing loss, but as the studies demonstrate, it’s smart to deal with these issues early before they affect your total health.

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

In order to avoid further hearing loss, older adults can consult with 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. An improved diet can help your other medical conditions and help you have better total health.

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