Naturally, when we think of hearing health, we tend to focus on physical hearing loss. But hearing health has been connected to so much more, including increased risk of falls, emotional or psychological issues, cardiovascular issues, and even diabetes. Our hearing is connected to our entire well-being, so we need to shift the narrative to view hearing as part of our total health and wellness.
Hearing Loss and Falls
The vestibular system, part of the inner ear, is responsible for balance and spatial awareness. Any damage to this system, like hearing loss, will impact a person’s equilibrium and ability to move normally. This is especially a problem for the elderly. A study by John Hopkins found that even mild hearing loss in the elderly triples the risk of falls. This same study did show, however, that using hearing aids reduces the fall risk.
Hearing Loss and Emotional Challenges
Emotionally, hearing loss often leads to fear, social isolation, confusion, and anger. Increased fall risk and lack of awareness of your surroundings is scary and stressful. Being unable to hear or follow conversations can be frustrating and irritating. Hobbies and activities someone once enjoyed are avoided. Straining to hear is tiring, leading to fatigue and anxiety. The simplest of daily tasks, from answering the phone or checking out at the grocery store are no longer easy. When you start to think of all the emotional difficulties that hearing loss can cause, it’s no surprise that hearing loss is psychologically challenging to deal with.
Hearing Loss and Cardiovascular Health
Research has shown that heart and hearing health often correspond. The inner ear does not have a backup supply of blood flow, making it especially sensitive to inadequate blood flow caused by cardiovascular problems. Inadequate blood flow and damaged blood vessels in the inner ear can cause permanent damage and hearing loss.
Hearing Loss and Diabetes
In recent years, it’s even been found that hearing loss is connected with diabetes. In 2008, the National Institute of Health (NIH) found hearing loss to be twice as common in adults with diabetes, especially in the high-frequency range. Just like with cardiovascular health, this occurs because diabetes can negatively impact circulation. Diabetes also elevates blood sugar levels. Together, this can damage blood vessels and reduce blood flow in the body, including the inner ear.
Hearing Loss and Your Health
With all these additional health problems connected with hearing loss, it is critical to have your hearing tested regularly and to treat hearing loss immediately, especially if you have cardiovascular problems or diabetes. Hearing aids are commonly used to treat hearing loss and have a positive effect on hearing. By treating hearing loss promptly and using hearing aids regularly, you may be able to stop further damage and avoid the additional emotional and physical challenges of hearing loss.