5 Reasons to Get Your Hearing Checked

Returning to civilian life after military service carries with it a unique set of challenges for veterans, whether they saw combat or not. Considering the fact that hearing loss issues are the top service-connected disability (see page 71 of the VA Benefits Report), many veterans understand the impact hearing loss can have on their daily lives. But, what about the impact hearing issues can have on other aspects of their health?

Hearing loss is connected to a number of conditions – referred to as comorbidities – that can have significant impacts on overall health. With that in mind, here are five reasons to get your hearing checked:

1. Avoid Falling

A study by the Washington University School of Medicine in St. Louis reveals that older patients (ages 65–91) wearing hearing aids in both ears perform better on standard balance tests. “We don’t think it’s just that wearing hearing aids makes the person more alert,” said senior author Timothy E. Hullar, MD, professor of otolaryngology at the School of Medicine. “The participants appeared to be using the sound information coming through their hearing aids as auditory reference points or landmarks to help maintain balance. It’s a bit like using your eyes to tell where you are in space. If we turn out the lights, people sway a little bit — more than they would if they could see. This study suggests that opening your ears also gives you information about balance.”

2. Detect Heart Disease Risk

Heart disease is the leading cause of death in the United States. With early detection and lifestyle changes, it can be avoided. Recent studies show hearing tests can actually provide early detection of an elevated risk of cardiovascular disease (CVD) — allowing for time to course-correct and stave it off. According to the study, “progression toward low-frequency hearing loss patterns provides early identification of patients whose audiometric pattern progression suggests increased probability of developing CVDs. The treating physician, by prescribing further investigations, could potentially prevent or reduce the morbidity of these diseases.”

3. Better Manage Effects of Diabetes

A little more than 10% of Americans have diabetes, and about a third of Americans are pre-diabetic. What many people don’t know is that individuals with diabetes are more than twice as likely to develop hearing loss as those without diabetes.

4. Ward Off Dementia

A famous study by Frank Lin, M.D., Ph.D. at the Johns Hopkins and National Institute on Aging presents clear evidence tying untreated hearing loss to an increased incidence of dementia: “Even after the researchers took into account other factors that are associated with risk of dementia, including diabetes, high blood pressure, age, sex and race,” Lin explains, “(untreated) hearing loss and dementia were still strongly connected.”

5. Stay better connected with what matters most in your life

Recent studies show social isolation and loneliness to be extremely detrimental to your health. One study went as far as comparing these concerns to smoking 15 cigarettes a day. “Among key findings: An estimated $6.7 billion in annual federal spending is attributable to social isolation among older adults. Poor social relationships were associated with a 29 percent increase in risk of coronary heart disease and a 32 percent rise in the risk of stroke, studies have shown. Authorities expect the financial and public health impact of loneliness to increase as the nation’s population ages.”

These are just a handful of reasons to get your hearing checked – there are other comorbidities worth knowing about. Included in the list of reasons to get your hearing checked are: it’s easy, it’s painless and it can improve your relationships.

If you’re dealing with hearing loss, the Heroes With Hearing Loss® program offers effective, lifestyle-focused solutions that can help.

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