The Connection Between Hearing Loss And Life Expectancy

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

Much like reading glasses and graying hair, 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 shows a connection between hearing loss and overall health in older adults.

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

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

This might sound bad but there’s a positive: several ways that hearing loss can be treated. Even more significantly, getting tested can help reveal serious health problems and inspire you to pay more attention to staying healthy, which will improve your life expectancy.

Why is Poor Health Connected With Hearing Loss?

While the research is interesting, cause and effect are still not clear.

Researchers at Johns Hopkins note that other issues like increased risk of stroke and heart disease were seen in older individuals who were suffering hearing loss.

These results make sense when you understand more about the causes of hearing loss. Many instances of hearing loss and tinnitus are tied to heart disease since high blood pressure affects the blood vessels in the ear canal. 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) working which produces higher blood pressure. High blood pressure in older adults with hearing loss frequently causes them to hear a whooshing noise in their ears.

Hearing loss has also been linked to Alzheimer’s disease, dementia, and other types of cognitive decline. There are numerous 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 leaves less mental ability to actually process the words or do anything else. In other cases, lots of people with hearing loss tend to be less social, usually due to the difficulty they have communicating. This social isolation leads to anxiety and depression, which can have a major impact on a person’s mental health.

How Hearing Loss Can be Treated by Older Adults

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

Hearing aids are one type of treatment that can be very effective in dealing with your hearing loss. There are small discreet models of hearing aids that are Bluetooth ready and an assortment of other options are also available. Additionally, hearing aid technology has been enhancing basic quality-of-life issues. For 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.

In order to prevent further 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 often be treated by increasing the iron content in your diet. Changes to your diet could also positively affect other health conditions, resulting in an overall more healthy lifestyle.

The site information is for educational and informational purposes only and does not constitute medical advice. To receive personalized advice or treatment, schedule an appointment.