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

Most people just accept hearing loss as a part of aging like reading glasses or gray hair. But a study from Duke-NUS Medical School demonstrates a link between overall health and hearing loss.

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

People who have untreated hearing loss, according to this study, may actually have a reduced lifespan. Additionally, they discovered that if untreated hearing loss occurred with vision impairments it almost doubles the likelihood that they will have difficulty with activities necessary for day-to-day living. It’s an issue that is both a physical and a quality of life issue.

This may sound bad but there’s a positive: several ways that hearing loss can be addressed. Even more importantly, getting tested can help uncover major health issues and spark you to pay more attention to staying healthy, which will improve your life expectancy.

What’s The Link Between Hearing Loss And Poor Health?

Research certainly reveals a connection but the exact cause and effect isn’t well known.

Researchers at Johns Hopkins note that other problems such as greater risk of stroke and heart disease were observed in older individuals who had hearing loss.

When you understand what the causes of hearing loss are, these results make more sense. Many cases of hearing loss and tinnitus are tied 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 due to smoking – the body’s blood needs to push harder to keep the ears (and everything else) working which produces higher blood pressure. Older adults with heart problems and hearing loss frequently 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 types of cognitive decline. There are numerous reasons for the two to be linked according to health care professionals and hearing specialists: the brain has to work harder to understand conversations and words for one, which leaves less mental ability to actually process the words or do anything else. In other situations, many people who have hearing loss tend to be less social, commonly due to the difficulty they have communicating. There can be a severe affect on a person’s mental health from social separation leading to anxiety and depression.

How Hearing Loss Can be Treated by Older Adults

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

Hearing aids are one type of treatment that can be very effective in fighting your hearing loss. There are several different styles of hearing aids available, including small, subtle models that connect with Bluetooth technology. What’s more, hearing aid technology has been enhancing basic quality-of-life issues. For example, they let you hear better during your entertainment by allowing you to connect to your phone, computer, or TV and they filter out background sound better than older versions.

In order to avoid additional hearing loss, older adults can seek advice from their physician or a nutritionist about positive dietary changes. There are links between iron deficiency anemia and hearing loss, for instance, 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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