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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 reveals a link between hearing loss and overall health in older adults.

Senior citizens with hearing or vision loss frequently struggle more with depression, cognitive decline, and communication problems. You may have already read about that. But did you know that hearing loss is also connected to shorter life expectancy?

This study shows that those with neglected hearing loss might enjoy “fewer years of life”. And, the likelihood that they will have difficulty carrying out tasks necessary for daily life nearly doubles if the person has both hearing and vision impairment. It’s both a physical problem and a quality of life issue.

This may sound bad but there’s a positive: hearing loss, for older people, can be treated through a variety of means. More significantly, major health issues can be revealed if you get a hearing exam which could inspire you to lengthen your life expectancy by taking better care of yourself.

Why is Hearing Loss Linked With Poor Health?

Research definitely shows a link but the accurate cause and effect isn’t perfectly understood.

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

These findings make sense when you know more about the causes of hearing loss. Countless instances 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 caused by smoking – the blood in the body has to work harder to keep the ears (and everything else) functioning which results in higher blood pressure. Older adults with heart conditions and hearing loss commonly experience a whooshing noise 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 several reasons for the two to be linked according to health professionals and hearing specialists: for one, the brain needs to work overtime to distinguish words in a conversation, which taps out the brain’s ability to do anything else. In other circumstances, difficulty communicating causes people with hearing loss to be less social. This social separation causes depression and anxiety, which can have a severe impact on a person’s mental health.

How Older Adults Can Manage Hearing Loss

Older adults have several options for managing hearing loss, but as is revealed by research, the smartest thing to do is deal with the issue as soon as you can before it has more severe repercussions.

Hearing aids are one form of treatment that can work wonders in combating your hearing loss. There are numerous different styles of hearing aids available, including small, discreet models that connect with Bluetooth technology. What’s more, hearing aid technology has been improving basic quality-of-life issues. As an example, they let you hear better during your entertainment by allowing you to connect to your phone, computer, or TV and they block out background noise better than older models.

Older adults can also go to a nutritionist or contact their physician about changes to their diet to help prevent additional hearing loss. There are links between iron deficiency anemia and hearing loss, for instance, which can usually be treated by increasing the iron content in your diet. A better diet can help your other medical conditions and help you have better general health.

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