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

Just like reading glasses and graying hair, hearing loss is simply one of those things that many people accept as a part of growing old. But a study from Duke-NUS Medical School reveals a connection between overall health and hearing loss.

Senior citizens with hearing or vision loss often struggle more with depression, cognitive decline, and communication troubles. That’s something you might have already read about. But one thing you may not be aware of is that life expectancy can also be influenced by hearing loss.

This research shows that individuals with neglected hearing loss might enjoy “fewer years of life”. In addition, they found that if untreated hearing loss happened with vision problems it just about doubles the probability that they will have difficulty with tasks necessary for daily living. It’s a problem that is both a physical and a quality of life concern.

While this may sound like bad news, there is a positive spin: hearing loss, for older adults, can be treated through a variety of methods. Even more importantly, getting tested can help expose serious health issues and inspire you to take better care of yourself, which will improve your life expectancy.

Why is Weak Health Associated With Hearing Loss?

While the research is persuasive, cause and effect are nonetheless unclear.

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

These findings make sense when you know more about the causes of hearing loss. Many cases of tinnitus and hearing loss are linked to heart disease since the blood vessels in the ear canal are impacted by high blood pressure. When the blood vessels are shrunken – which can be due to smoking – the body has to work harder to push the blood through which results in high blood pressure. Older adults with heart problems and hearing loss often experience a whooshing sound 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 linked: for one, the brain has to work harder to differentiate words in a conversation, which leaves less mental ability to actually process the words or do anything else. In other situations, difficulty communicating causes people with hearing loss to socialize less. There can be an extreme affect on a person’s mental health from social separation resulting in anxiety and depression.

How Older Adults Can Manage Hearing Loss

Older adults have a number of options for treating hearing loss, but as is revealed by research, it is best to deal with these issues early before they affect your total health.

Hearing aids are one kind of treatment that can be very effective in fighting your hearing loss. There are small discreet versions of hearing aids that are Bluetooth ready and a variety of other options are also available. Also, basic quality of life has been enhancing because of hearing aid technology. For instance, they filter out background noise a lot 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 stop additional hearing loss, older adults can seek advice from their doctor or a nutritionist about positive dietary changes. There are connections between iron deficiency anemia and hearing loss, for example, which can usually 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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