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

Just like graying hair and reading glasses, hearing loss is just one of those things that most people accept as a part of growing old. But a study from Duke-NUS Medical School reveals a link between overall health and hearing loss.

Communication troubles, cognitive decline, and depression have a higher occurrence in older people with vision or hearing loss. That’s something you may already have read about. But one thing you may not recognize is that life expectancy can also be affected by hearing loss.

People with untreated hearing loss, according to this research, may actually have a reduced lifespan. What’s more, they discovered that if untreated hearing loss occurred with vision impairments it almost doubles the likelihood that they will have a hard time with tasks necessary for daily living. It’s both a physical issue and a quality of life problem.

While this might sound like sad news, there is a silver lining: there’s a variety of ways that hearing loss can be treated. Even more importantly, having a hearing exam can help expose major health problems and inspire you to pay more attention to staying healthy, which will improve your life expectancy.

Why is Weak Health Connected With Hearing Loss?

Research undoubtedly shows a connection but the specific cause and effect isn’t well understood.

Researchers at Johns Hopkins note that older adults with hearing loss had a tendency to have other issues, {likesuch as} high rates of smoking, increased heart disease, and stroke.

These findings make sense when you know more about the causes of hearing loss. Many instances of hearing loss and tinnitus are linked to heart disease since high blood pressure affects the blood vessels in the ear canal. When you have shrunken blood vessels – which can be due to smoking – the body has to work harder to squeeze the blood through which results in high blood pressure. Older adults who have heart troubles and hearing loss frequently experience a whooshing noise in their ears, which can be caused by high blood pressure.

Hearing loss has also been connected to Alzheimer’s disease, dementia, and other types of cognitive decline. There are a number of reasons for the two to be linked according to health care professionals and hearing experts: for starters, the brain has to work harder to differentiate words in a conversation, which saps out the brain’s ability to do anything else. In other situations, lots of people who have hearing loss tend to be less social, frequently because of the difficulty they have communicating. There can be an extreme affect on a person’s mental health from social separation resulting in anxiety and depression.

How Hearing Loss Can be Treated by Older Adults

Older adults have several options for managing hearing loss, but as the studies demonstrate, the best thing to do is address the problem as soon as you can before it has more severe consequences.

Hearing aids are one kind of treatment that can work wonders in dealing with 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 due to hearing aid technology. As an 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.

Older adults can also go to a nutritionist or contact their primary care physician about changes to their diet to help prevent further hearing loss. There are connections between iron deficiency anemia and hearing loss, for example, which can frequently 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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