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

Much like reading glasses and graying hair, hearing loss is just one of those things that many people accept as a part of the aging process. But a study from Duke-NUS Medical School shows a connection between total health and hearing loss.

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

People with untreated hearing loss, according to this research, might actually have a shorter lifespan. What’s more, they found that if untreated hearing loss happened with vision impairments it nearly doubles the likelihood that they will have difficulty with tasks necessary for daily living. It’s both a physical issue and a quality of life issue.

This may sound bad but there’s a positive: hearing loss, for older adults, can be treated through a variety of methods. More significantly, serious health problems can be found if you have a hearing test which could encourage you to lengthen your life expectancy by paying more attention to your health.

Why is Hearing Loss Connected With Inferior Health?

While the research is compelling, cause and effect are still uncertain.

Researchers at Johns Hopkins note that other problems including increased risk of stroke and heart disease were observed in older individuals who were suffering hearing loss.

When you know what the causes of hearing loss are, these results make more sense. Countless cases of hearing loss and tinnitus are linked to heart disease since the blood vessels in the ear canal are affected by high blood pressure. When you have shrunken blood vessels – which can be brought on by smoking – the body’s blood has to push harder to keep the ears (and everything else) working which results in higher blood pressure. Older adults who have heart troubles and hearing loss frequently experience a whooshing noise in their ears, which is usually caused by high blood pressure.

Hearing loss has also been linked to Alzheimer’s disease, dementia, and other types of cognitive decline. There are several reasons for the two to be connected according to health care professionals and hearing experts: the brain has to work harder to decipher conversations and words for one, which saps out the brain’s ability to do anything else. In other circumstances, many people with hearing loss tend to be less social, frequently due to the difficulty they have communicating. There can be a severe impact on a person’s mental health from social isolation resulting in depression and anxiety.

How Older Adults Can Treat Hearing Loss

There are a number of solutions available to manage hearing loss in older adults, but as the studies reveal, the best thing to do is address the issue as soon as you can before it has more extreme consequences.

Hearing aids are one form 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 an assortment of other options are also available. Also, basic quality of life has been enhancing as a result of hearing aid technology. For instance, they filter out background sound much better than older designs and can be connected to cell phones, TVs, and computers to let you hear better during the entertainment.

Older adults can also go to a nutritionist or consult with their doctor about changes to their diet to help stop further hearing loss. There are connections between iron deficiency anemia and hearing loss, for example, which can usually be treated by adding more iron into your diet. An improved diet can help your other medical conditions and help you have better general health.

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