Hearing loss and general health

How Hearing Loss is Connected to Other Health Problems

Did you know that untreated hearing loss can increase your risk for developing cognitive issues, dementia and depression? Or that those with a hearing impairment are more likely to have a fall? Indeed, scientists have observed that treating hearing loss, can reverse or even prevent some conditions. Here’s what you should know the relationship between hearing and your overall health.

How hearing loss affects your overall health

Untreated hearing loss doesn’t just make it difficult to communicate. It can also lead to these issues and more.

Dementia. Moderate hearing loss can increase your risk for dementia. This may be because hearing loss contributes to hastening rates of atrophy in the brain. Hearing loss also contributes to social isolation, which has been proven to increase rates of dementia. (Read the full position statement below at:
https://www.oac-sac.ca/sites/default/files/resources/Dementia_Position-Statement_EN.pdf)

• Falls and injuries. Your ears aren’t just for hearing. The inner ear is also where the vestibular system, the sensory system that’s in charge of balance and special orientation, resides. Studies show that even mild hearing loss can increase the likelihood of falling in older people by as much as three times.

• Mental health problems. People with hearing loss often find communicating difficult and withdraw from their normal social interactions as a result. This can lead to depression, anxiety and other mental health issues.

How your health affects your hearing
Hearing loss can impact your health and well-being, but so too can your health and well-being affect your hearing. Here are some diseases that have been linked to hearing loss:

• Heart disease. Research shows that there’s a link between the heart and hearing health. The theory is that damage to the blood vessels in the inner ear reduces blood flow, which can result in hearing loss.

• Type 2 diabetes. Hearing loss is twice as common in people who have type 2 diabetes as those who don’t. This may be because the disease damages nerves and blood vessels in the inner ear.

• Chronic kidney disease. An Australian study showed that 55% of people with moderate chronic kidney disease are affected with hearing loss. This may be explained by structural and functional similarities in inner ear and kidney tissue.

What can you do about it?
If your hearing loss is related to a health issue like heart disease, diabetes or chronic kidney disease, it’s important to follow the treatment course recommended by your doctor and to have your hearing tested regularly by an audiologist. While hearing loss caused by other medical issues may not be reversible, hearing aids can help you avoid the repercussions of an untreated impairment.

 

Hearing care in Alberta

 

If you’re worried that your hearing is affected by or affecting your general health, there’s help. Visit an audiologist at one of the Soundwave Hearing Care clinics today for a hearing test. With locations in Calgary, Grande Prairie, Lethbridge and High River, we’re well placed to help most Albertans. Contact us today to make an appointment.

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