Hearing loss is one of the most common chronic health conditions in the United States, following only arthritis and high-blood pressure. Though manageable through the use of hearing aids, once a sensorineural hearing loss has occurred, it cannot be cured. Hearing loss has been linked to other serious health conditions, including depression, anxiety and cognitive decline. Fortunately, most instances of hearing loss can be prevented. A research group at the University of Florida recently uncovered another promising way to protect yourself from age-related hearing impairment: exercise. Their study showed that physical activity can help prevent the onset of age-related hearing loss.
Of the most common hearing loss causes is the age-related deterioration of the auditory system. This form of hearing loss occurs gradually over many years as the result of damage to delicate hair cells and other parts in the auditory system. This condition affects approximately 70 percent of individuals over 69 years of age, making it one of the most common conditions impacting seniors.
In order to maintain a healthy auditory system, it needs to be well oxygenated. The effects of oxygen on our hearing is one of the aspects studied by the researchers at University of Florida. Using two groups of mice, one with access to an exercise wheel and one without, the research team examined the impacts of a sedentary lifestyle on the rodents.
Their study suggests that age-related inflammation results in damage to the the cells of the auditory system, a factor the active group were able to reduce by about 50 percent. The active group also had a much lower rate of auditory damage and, while the sedentary mice experienced loss of hearing at a rate of about 20 percent, only 5 percent of the active group had an impairment.
The scientific community is hopeful that this study may also be applicable to humans. The National Institutes of Health is undertaking a research initiative to explore which molecules released during exercise may help maintain auditory health.
In the meantime, hearing loss specialists recommend regular hearing tests to all individuals over 50 to help monitor and maintain their auditory health. A hearing test can be conducted by your local audiologist or hearing health specialist. To learn more about hearing loss treatments, or to schedule a consultation with a premier audiologist in Portland, contact our team at (503) 222-3638>.