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Hearing loss impacts an estimated 30 million Americans over the age of 12, making it one of the leading chronic health concerns in the country. It’s a condition that tends to develop in older people, with one in three adults over the age of 65 registering hearing loss.
We refer to this type of hearing loss as age-related, because the normal process of aging takes a toll on the finite number of inner ear cells we use to collect noise from the world before turning it into sound information for the brain.
New studies linking osteoporosis and hearing loss shed fresh light on the interplay of bone density and hearing health. As we endeavor to prolong vitality and wellbeing as we age, it might be that lifting weights can protect hearing health.
Bone Density And Aging
There are all sorts of visible signs of the aging process. Grey hair, balding, wrinkles and other changes in appearance are all the well-known companions of advancing years. However, so many internal and invisible processes are also changing as the years go by.
While it may seem as though bone is a static part of the skeleton, our bones are actually living tissue, constantly engaged in a harmonious cycle of bone loss and regeneration.
Humans hit the peak of bone density in their late twenties at which point the body’s process for maintaining bone density simply slows down. The National Council on Aging warns that after the age of 50, we lose more bone mass than our bodies can create.
The Link Between Osteoporosis And Hearing Loss
Learning about ways to protect the bones of your body leads to numerous health benefits. When bone mass is lost at a much higher rate than the body can replace, the bones become brittle and prone to break easily. This condition is known as osteoporosis, which can occur silently and invisibly. In fact, most cases of osteoporosis are diagnosed due to accidents where bones proved to be more fragile than they should be.
Whereas many cases of age-related hearing loss are attributed to the degeneration of inner ear cells, the bones of the inner ear play an important role in hearing health, too. Some of the smallest bones of the body reside in the inner ear, a group we refer to as auditory ossicles. Their role is to assist in conducting sound from the outer ear to the inner ear, where it can reach those sensitive inner ear cells.
Recent studies that illuminate the correlation between osteoporosis and challenged hearing suggest that lack of healthy bone density throughout the body could be contributing to progressive, age-related hearing loss.
How To Preserve Bone Density
The benefits of preserving bone density after middle age helps extend well being in many ways. Beyond protecting your hearing health, strong bones make a body more resilient and able to withstand bumps, bruises and minor accidents.
Women in particular can benefit from taking the lead in preserving bone mass, as they can lose a staggering 20 to 25 percent of bone density during menopause.
The process of bone creation is stimulated by pressure and tension, which is why weight bearing exercise is essential. A simple walking plan can boost bone growth, as this is a moderate weight bearing modality for the lower body.
But lifting weights (also known as strength or resistance training) is the best incentive for more bone growth. True beginners can start with weights between one and three pounds and work their way up. Intermediate exercises are probably ready to push themselves a bit more and can use five to 10 pound weights. There are a plethora of simple beginner strength routines on the internet to jumpstart your new habit, as well as in-person instructional options at most gyms and community rec centers.
Early Signs Of Hearing Loss
Despite best efforts at preserving good hearing health, it’s a condition that many people will encounter as they age. Its earliest presentation tends to be subtle and easy to miss. In fact, a great majority of people’s hearing loss is first noticed by friends and family due to changes in behavior.
Trouble with speech clarity is one of the first warning signs. You might notice that you have trouble following conversations, understanding what is being said, and particularly in larger group settings. You might become reliant on closed captioning to understand dialogue on television and find telephone conversations frustrating.
Schedule A Hearing Consultation
The best first step to treating hearing loss is to understand more about your current hearing health. Schedule a consultation with our highly trained team today.