Hearing and Your Health What do You Need to Know?
Medical providers are increasingly encouraging patients to attend to their hearing loss. Why? More and more research conducted into hearing loss shows greater implications for senior patients than just trouble hearing. Hearing loss is now being associated with other potentially more serious health problems. So what do you need to know in order to ensure healthy hearing and healthy living in the future?
Hearing Loss and Cognitive Decline
Hearing loss, if left untreated, contributes to an increased risk for dementia or Alzheimer’s disease. In a recent study conducted by Dr. Frank Lin, it was concluded that the progression of hearing loss has a strong link to a patient’s cognitive decline; with greater hearing loss, patients experienced more severe mental decline and a greater likelihood of developing a cognitive disorder. The results of this study revealed that older patients with hearing loss had greater shrinkage of brain tissue and atrophy in parts of the brain that play key roles in memory and sensory integration. These results were similar to the damage seen in the brains of patients with Alzheimer’s disease. It is vital, therefore, that patients are informed about the benefits of regular hearing tests and treatment with hearing aids in order to preserve brain health and cognitive function.
Hearing Loss and Risk of Falling
To decrease a patient’s risk of falling, physicians recommend patients monitor their diet and exercise, get their vision tested regularly, and are mindful of medications that cause dizziness or light-headedness. Another contributing factor linked to a patient’s risk of falling is loss of hearing. In a review of the National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey, researchers found that individuals with hearing loss were at a greater risk of falling. Reportedly people between the ages of 40 and 69 with hearing loss at 25 decibels were nearly three times more likely to have a history of falling. For every 10 decibels greater, that risk increased 1.4 times. The causal link between hearing loss and an individual’s fall risk is well established. Patients are encouraged to get their hearing tested and to talk to their doctor about preventing injury due to falls.
Hearing Loss and Diabetes
Researchers have proven a strong association between hearing loss in older patients and an increased risk of contracting Type 2 diabetes. In a study conducted testing participants’ hearing in order to determine if there was a link, researchers discovered that diabetics are 2.15 times more likely to have hearing loss than people without diabetes. Additional studies indicate that diabetes may in fact lead to sensorineural hearing loss by causing damage to the nerves and blood vessels in the inner ear. This is why it is important for patients to report any hearing loss to their doctor and to monitor the progression of hearing loss for the patient’s overall health.