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

Much like graying hair and reading glasses, hearing loss is just one of those things that most people accept as a part of the aging process. But a study from Duke-NUS Medical School reveals a connection between general health and hearing loss.

Senior citizens with hearing or vision loss commonly struggle more with depression, cognitive decline, and communication troubles. That’s something you might have already read about. But did you know that hearing loss is also connected to shorter life expectancy?

People with untreated hearing loss, according to this study, may actually have a reduced lifespan. And, the possibility that they will have difficulty performing activities needed for daily life almost doubles if the individual has both hearing and vision impairment. It’s both a physical problem and a quality of life problem.

This may sound bad but there’s a positive: hearing loss, for older adults, can be managed through a variety of methods. Even more significantly, getting tested can help uncover major health problems and spark you to take better care of yourself, which will improve your life expectancy.

Why is Poor Health Connected With Hearing Loss?

Research undoubtedly shows a connection but the accurate cause and effect isn’t perfectly known.

Researchers at Johns Hopkins note that other problems including increased risk of stroke and heart disease were seen in older people who had hearing loss.

These findings make sense when you understand more about the causes of hearing loss. Many instances of tinnitus and hearing loss are linked to heart disease since the blood vessels in the ear canal are impacted by high blood pressure. When you have shrunken blood vessels – which can be brought on by smoking – the blood in the body has to work harder to keep the ears (and everything else) functioning which produces higher blood pressure. High blood pressure in older adults with hearing loss frequently causes them to hear a whooshing sound in their ears.

Hearing loss has also been linked to Alzheimer’s disease, dementia, and other types of cognitive decline. Hearing specialists and other health care professionals suspect there are several reasons why the two are connected: for starters, the brain needs to work harder to differentiate words in a conversation, which allows less mental capacity to actually process the words or do anything else. In other scenarios, difficulty communicating causes people with hearing loss to be less social. This social isolation causes depression and anxiety, which can have an extreme impact on a person’s mental health.

How Hearing Loss Can be Treated by Older Adults

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

Hearing aids are one form of treatment that can be very effective in dealing with your hearing loss. There are several different styles of hearing aids available, including small, subtle models that are Bluetooth ready. In addition, hearing aid technology has been enhancing basic quality-of-life issues. For instance, they block out background sound far better than older versions and can be connected to cell phones, TVs, and computers to allow for better hearing during the entertainment.

So that you can stop additional hearing loss, older adults can consult their physician or a nutritionist about positive dietary changes. There are links between iron deficiency anemia and hearing loss, for instance, which can frequently be treated by adding more iron into your diet. A better diet can help your other medical conditions and help you have better general health.

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