Autumn has officially arrived! Most of us make resolutions at the New Year, and they usually involve improving our health and well-being. Now that we’re in the last quarter of the year, it’s time to check in with our goals. With September as National Self Improvement Month, this is a great opportunity to take action, wherever you’re at with your goals.
An important part of self-improvement includes ensuring your physical health. Did you know that hearing loss, if left untreated, could greatly affect your overall health and well-being? With just a week left in the month of September, consider scheduling a hearing test as a part of any plan that includes improving your health.
How Untreated Hearing Loss Affects Your Overall Health
Hearing loss is the third most common medical condition in the United States, affecting people of all ages. It is most commonly found among older Americans (age 65 and above), but it may take years to detect. For this reason, hearing specialists recommend taking an annual hearing test from the age of 50. Even if a hearing loss is not found, establishing a clear baseline understanding of your hearing abilities is important for the future.
As a medical condition, hearing loss is linked to a number of comorbidities. The term comorbidity refers to medical conditions that are interrelated. With untreated hearing loss, studies have found a potential increase in the risk for developing dementia, which is commonly found in older adults. Untreated hearing loss interferes with the way our brains process sound, thereby creating a heavier cognitive load, according to researchers at Johns Hopkins University. This places a burden on brain function, draining resources that would otherwise be used in different areas. In the long term, this could cause an increase for developing dementia. There is good news, however: another study found that people who treat hearing loss with the use of hearing aids perform cognitive tasks just as well as people with normal hearing.
In the same way that hearing loss is invisible, the related conditions are as well. Mental health does not often get enough attention in national discussions – but it is inseparable from hearing loss. Untreated hearing loss could cause a rift in our most important relationships, due to the difficulties experienced with communication. Over time, people with untreated hearing loss might isolate themselves from social events and are at higher risk for developing depression and anxiety. In the workplace, untreated hearing loss could lead to lower productivity and concentration issues – and even lower earning power.
Diet & Exercise Linked to Healthy Hearing
If improving your diet and exercise regimen is a part of Self Improvement Month, that’s great news – especially when it comes to your hearing health. According to Healthy Hearing, losing weight, exercising, and quitting smoking are all beneficial to your hearing health: “The sensitive hair cells of the inner ear depend on good circulation to do their job, which is to translate the noise your ears collect into electrical impulses for the brain to interpret as recognizable sound. Maintaining a sensible weight and exercising regularly is good for circulation. Nicotine and carbon monoxide deplete oxygen levels and constrict blood vessels all over your body, including those responsible for your ear’s hair cells.”
In other words, activities that help improve your cardiovascular health also go a long way to improve your hearing health. The nutrients of your diet could also go a long way to help improve your hearing health, according to a study from the Kresge Institute from the University of Michigan. Dr. Colleen Le Prell, one of the leading researchers, found that “vitamins A, C, and E and magnesium worked in synergy to prevent cell damage…high doses of certain antioxidants reduced noise-induced hearing loss in animals when taken both before and after loud noise.” Another study finds that omega-3 fatty acids and folic acid also support hearing health.
A diet that balances colorful fruits and leafy green vegetables, several portions of fish a week, and even chocolate, could support healthy hearing.
Get Your Hearing Tested
The most important thing you can do for your hearing health is schedule an annual hearing test. Hearing tests are designed to gauge your hearing abilities; if a hearing loss is found, we will work with you to find the best treatment. Contact us at Hearing Health Care Center today!