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10 Health Conditions Connected to Hearing Loss

People over the age of 55 should be adding hearing healthcare to their list of annual check ups. Unfortunately, our hearing is expected to decline as we age and there is not much we can do to prevent it from happening. Being aware of a hearing loss and treating it with hearing aids when needed can have a positive impact of our quality of life as we age. The degree of hearing loss that one will experience is dependent on many different factors like genetics, noise exposure, and other contributing health conditions.

Here are 10 common health conditions that are connected with hearing loss:

  1. Tinnitus: that annoying buzzing or ringing sound in your ear(s). While it is possible to have tinnitus without hearing loss, 90% of people with tinnitus also have hearing loss. Unfortunately, there isn’t often an easy fix for this condition, but hearing aids can help alleviate the stress associated with it.
  2. Diabetes: hearing loss is 2.15 times more common in diabetics than in people without the disease. There is evidence that diabetes causes damage to the nerves and blood vessels of the inner ear, causing sensorineural hearing loss especially in those with type 2 diabetes.
  3. Kidney Disease: more than half of the population with chronic kidney disease also have hearing loss.
  4. Ototoxicity: there are more than 200 medications on the market today that are known to cause hearing loss. Often times the benefits of the medications outweigh the con of having hearing loss, so be sure to consult with your medical professionals before making changes if you think a medication is causing hearing loss.
  5. Osteoporosis: conductive hearing loss can be a result of demineralization of the three middle ear bones in those with osteoporosis.
  6. Heart Health: the inner ear is extremely sensitive to variations in blood flow. Lack of blood flow to the ear can cause a low frequency hearing loss. On the flip side, good cardiovascular health may contribute to healthier ears, especially among older adults.
  7. Smoking: current smokers have a 70% higher risk of having hearing loss than nonsmokers. This ties in with the effects that smoking has on your cardiovascular health.
  8. Alzheimer’s/Dementia: people with untreated hearing loss are significantly more likely to develop dementia over time than those who retain their hearing or wear hearing aids. Increased mental effort needed in trying to hear and understand speech means the brain devotes more resources to compensate for the hearing loss at the expense of other processes such as memory and thinking. There is also a component of social withdrawal that can come with hearing loss that leads to lack of regular interaction and a mental slowdown.
  9. Balance: people with a mild hearing loss are 3 times more likely to have a history of falling. Every additional 10 decibels of hearing loss increases the chance of falling by 1.4 times.
  10. Depression: there is a significant association between hearing loss and moderate to severe depression, especially in women. Communication becomes a source of stress for someone with hearing loss and they begin to withdrawal socially. Studies show that severity of depression tends to worsen as the hearing ability declines, but treating the hearing loss with hearing aids helps people to improve their mental health and increase social engagement.

Whether you are concerned about any of the above conditions or not, it is important to put hearing health on your annual checklist. Give yourself the best chance at a great social life as you age. Hearing testing for those aged 55+ is always free at Sound Hearing!