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Just like graying hair and reading glasses, hearing loss is simply one of those things that many people accept as a part of growing old. But a study from Duke-NUS Medical School reveals a connection between hearing loss and general health in older adults.

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

This research suggests that those with neglected hearing loss may enjoy “fewer years of life”. And, the likelihood that they will have a hard time performing activities required for daily life almost doubles if the individual has both hearing and vision impairment. It’s an issue that is both a physical and a quality of life issue.

While this might sound like sad news, there is a silver lining: hearing loss, for older adults, can be managed through a variety of methods. More significantly, major health problems can be found if you get a hearing test which could encourage you to lengthen your life expectancy by taking better care of yourself.

Why is Poor Health Linked With Hearing Loss?

While the research is persuasive, cause and effect are nonetheless unclear.

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

These findings make sense when you understand more about the causes of hearing loss. Many cases of tinnitus and hearing loss are tied to heart disease since high blood pressure impacts the blood vessels in the ear canal. When you have shrunken blood vessels – which can be caused by smoking – the body has to work harder to squeeze the blood through which leads to high blood pressure. High blood pressure in older adults with hearing loss often causes them to hear a whooshing noise in their ears.

Hearing loss has also been linked to dementia, Alzheimer’s disease, and other forms of cognitive decline. Hearing specialists and other health professionals suspect there are several reasons why the two are connected: for starters, the brain needs to work overtime to differentiate words in a conversation, which taps out the brain’s ability to do anything else. In other situations, many people with hearing loss tend to be less social, usually because of the difficulty they have communicating. There can be a serious affect on a person’s mental health from social separation resulting in anxiety and depression.

How Hearing Loss Can be Managed by Older Adults

Older adults have several options for treating hearing loss, but as the studies reveal, the best thing to do is address the issue as soon as possible before it has more serious consequences.

Hearing aids are one type 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 a variety of other options are also available. In addition, hearing aid technology has been enhancing basic quality-of-life issues. For instance, they block out background sound a lot better than older designs and can be connected to computers, cell phones, and TV’s to allow for better hearing during the entertainment.

Older adults can also go to a nutritionist or contact their doctor about changes to their diet to help stop further hearing loss. There are links between iron deficiency anemia and hearing loss, for example, which can often be treated by increasing the iron content in your diet. Changes to your diet could also positively impact other health conditions, leading to an overall more healthy lifestyle.

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