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

Many people just accept hearing loss as a part of aging like reading glasses or gray hair. But a study from Duke-NUS Medical School shows a connection between overall health and hearing loss.

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

This study suggests that individuals with neglected hearing loss might enjoy “fewer years of life”. And, the possibility that they will have difficulty performing activities needed for daily life almost doubles if the individual has both hearing and vision impairment. 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 people, can be treated through a variety of means. More significantly, major health problems can be found if you get a hearing exam which could inspire you to lengthen your life expectancy by paying more attention to your health.

Why is Poor Health Linked With Hearing Loss?

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

Researchers at Johns Hopkins note that older adults with hearing loss had a tendency to have other problems, {such as} high rates of smoking, increased 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 tied to heart disease since high blood pressure affects the blood vessels in the ear canal. When the blood vessels are shrunken – which can be a consequence of smoking – the body’s blood needs to work harder to keep the ears (and everything else) functioning which brings about higher blood pressure. High blood pressure in older adults who have hearing impairment frequently causes them to hear a whooshing sound in their ears.

Hearing loss has also been linked to Alzheimer’s disease, dementia, and other forms of cognitive decline. There are numerous reasons for the two to be connected according to health care professionals and hearing experts: the brain has to work overtime to understand conversations and words for one, which saps out the brain’s capacity to do anything else. In other scenarios, difficulty communicating causes people with hearing loss to be less social. This social isolation causes anxiety and depression, which can have a major impact on a person’s mental health.

How Older Adults Can Treat Hearing Loss

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

Hearing aids are one kind 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. Additionally, 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 filter out background noise better than older versions.

Older adults can also go to a nutritionist or talk to their doctor about changes to their diet to help stop further hearing loss. There are links 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, leading to an overall more healthy lifestyle.

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