More and more researchers are finding that hearing loss is associated with a broad range of chronic diseases and health conditions.
In fact, sleep apnea — a significant men’s health issue — was recently added to the growing list, which already includes diabetes, cardiovascular disease, depression, and dementia, among others.
A new study-led by Amit Chopra, MD, an expert in pulmonary medicine at the Albany Medical Center in New York, and presented at the American Thoracic Society’s 2014 International Conference found that sleep apnea is significantly associated with hearing loss at both high and low frequencies.
“Our findings suggest that sleep apnea is a systemic disease and is associated with increased risk of hearing loss, along with a number of diseases like diabetes, high blood pressure, heart disease, and stroke. I encourage people with sleep apnea to be educated and tested for hearing loss.”
According to the Better Hearing Institute (BHI), there are simple things men can do to protect their hearing, including listening to smartphones and MP3 players only at a low volume, and wearing earplugs in noisy environments like sporting events, clubs, concerts, or when using power tools and riding motorcycles-are examples.
10 Reasons Men Should Get Their Hearing Tested
• Unaddressed hearing loss negatively affects quality of life. Research shows that hearing loss is frequently associated with other physical, mental, and emotional health conditions. But men who address their hearing loss often experience better quality of life.
• Hearing loss is tied to depression. Studies show that hearing loss is associated with an increased risk of depression in adults of all ages, but is most pronounced in 18 to 69 year olds. Research also shows that the use of hearing aids reduces depressive symptoms.
• A person’s hearing may say something about their heart. Cardiovascular and hearing health are linked. Some experts say the inner ear is so sensitive to blood flow that it’s possible that abnormalities in the cardiovascular system could be noted here earlier than in other less sensitive parts of the body.
• Hearing loss is twice as common in people with diabetes. Studies show that people with diabetes are twice as likely to have hearing loss. When broken down by age, one study showed that those 60 and younger are at greater risk.
• Hearing loss is tied to sleep apnea. Sleep apnea is more prevalent in men than in women. A new study found that sleep apnea is significantly associated with hearing loss at both high and low frequencies.
• Cancer treatments can damage hearing. Certain chemotherapy treatments for cancer may damage healthy cochlear hair cells found in the inner ear and result in hearing loss.
• Hearing loss may put a person at greater risk of falling or hospitalisation. A pair of Johns Hopkins’ studies found that people with even just mild hearing loss were nearly three times more likely to have a history of falling, and that hospitalisation is more likely for older adults with hearing loss.”
• Addressing hearing loss may benefit long-term cognitive function. Research shows a link between hearing loss and dementia, leading experts to believe that interventions, like hearing aids, could potentially delay or prevent dementia. Research is ongoing.
• Hearing loss in men is tied to common pain relievers. Researchers found that regular use of aspirin, NSAIDs, or acetaminophen increases the risk of hearing loss in men, and for younger men, the impact is even greater.
• Addressing hearing loss may help protect earnings. A BHI study showed that people with untreated hearing loss lose as much as $30,000 in income annually, depending on their degree of hearing loss. But the use of hearing aids reduced the risk of income loss dramatically-by 90 to 100 percent for those with milder hearing loss, and from 65 to 77 percent for those whose hearing loss was severe to moderate.
Things Men Should Know About Hearing Aids
• They’re virtually invisible. Many of today’s hearing aids sit discreetly and comfortably inside your ear canal, providing both natural sound quality, and discreet and easy use.
• They automatically adjust to all kinds of soundscapes. Whether it’s easy conversation in a crowded restaurant, or the chirp of crickets on a late summer’s evening you’re after, recent technological advances have made hearing aids far more versatile than ever before-and in a broad range of sound environments.
• You can do water sports and sweat while wearing them. Waterproof, digital hearing aids have arrived. This new feature is built into some newly designed hearing aids for those concerned about water, humidity, and dust. This feature suits the active lifestyles of swimmers, skiers, snowboarders, intensive sports enthusiasts, and anyone working in dusty, demanding environments.
• They love your smartphone, home entertainment system, and other prized electronics. Wireless, digital hearing aids are now the norm. That means seamless connectivity-directly into your hearing aid(s) at volumes that are just right for you-from your smartphone, television, and other beloved high-tech gadgets. What’s more, you own the volume. No one around you needs to be affected.
• They’re always at the ready. A new rechargeable feature on some newly designed hearing aids allows you to recharge your hearing aids every night, so they’re ramped up for you in the morning.
There’s no more fumbling with small batteries. Just place the hearing aids into the charger at night, and they’re ready to go in the morning.