Healthy lifestyles and improvements in medicine mean that in general, people can expect to live longer than in decades past.

Hearing and your health

But as we expect to live longer, we can also expect some age-related hearing loss. So along those lines, have you had your hearing tested? What if I told you there’s more to hearing loss than just “hearing” – it’s also about your health. There is an increasing and emerging body of evidence linking hearing loss to other important health issues.

You may be surprised to learn that research is now associating hearing loss with things like diabetes, cardiovascular disease, smoking, falling, kidney disease, dementia, obesity and much more. The reality is that hearing loss isn’t just something for seniors or those who work in noisy environments to worry about. Anyone concerned with their health should think about their hearing.

Technology and innovation

Despite hearing loss being linked to health conditions, it continues to be underreported, underdiagnosed and undertreated.

Beyond the correlation of hearing loss to other health conditions, is the matter of how hearing loss may actually affect your overall healthcare. Research shows that patient communication problems (including hearing loss) are significantly related to the presence of preventable medical adverse effects. The probability of a miscommunication between patient and caregiver increases dramatically as hearing loss increases.

"The technological leaps enjoyed by digital hearing aids in recent years are all designed to enhance your listening enjoyment in a range of environments."

For example, patients who do not hear instructions may take too much medication or not follow directions for care. Another study revealed that people with self-reported hearing loss had lower ratings of physician-patient communication and overall healthcare than did people with typical hearing.

Protecting your hearing

Baby boomers want to remain looking and feeling young, are rapid adopters of technology, tend to postpone their retirement, and are interested in healthy relationships and healthy lifestyles. So if you are reading this and are a health conscious person, it just makes sense to get a hearing test.   

Baby boomers also don’t want to have anything to do with things that makes them look older. Fear not: today’s digital hearing aids have come a long way from their analogue predecessors. Today’s models offer enough features and accessories to make your smartphone jealous. The technological leaps enjoyed by digital hearing aids in recent years are all designed to enhance your listening enjoyment in a range of environments.

They accomplish this by employing artificial intelligence, adaptive directional microphones, automatic and multi-programs, voice message features, wireless communication between hearing aids, Bluetooth technology and much more. Today’s hearing aids are cool, come in a range of colour designs, and are even waterproof. This is not the same hearing aid your grandmother had!

While aging and hearing loss are closely associated in recent years, some researchers believe that noise is the number one contributor of hearing loss. So protecting your hearing is also an important part of your health. While noise induced hearing loss is irreversible, it is also preventable.

When you know you will be around loud noise, use earplugs. When using personal listening devices such as smartphones and MP3 players, keep them at a low volume. Most importantly, give careful consideration to the length of time you spend in noisy environments. And when you do participate in noisy activities, make sure you give your ears plenty of time to rest with periods of quiet.

May is Speech and Hearing Awareness Month. Hearing healthcare professionals from all corners of our country will be educating the public about hearing health and encouraging everyone to get a hearing test. Identifying and addressing hearing loss can improve your quality of life in terms of your communication, your overall health and even your healthcare.

If you haven’t had your hearing tested, meet with a hearing healthcare professional and get the answers that you need. Knowing the status of your hearing health is the smart thing to do, because it’s not just about hearing loss anymore.