It’s an unfortunate fact of life that hearing loss is part of the aging process. Roughly 38 million people suffer from some kind of hearing loss in the United States, though because hearing loss is expected as we age, many people decide to leave it unchecked. Ignoring hearing loss, however, can have serious negative side effects on a person’s entire well-being beyond their inability to hear.
Why do so many people refuse to get help for their hearing loss? According to an AARP study, More than half of seniors cited costs as the major worry while one third consider hearing loss as a minor issue that can be easily handled. However, those costs can increase astronomically when you factor in the serious side effects and ailments that are caused by ignoring hearing loss. Here are the most prevalent negative effects of neglecting hearing loss.
Most people will not immediately connect the dots from fatigue to hearing loss. They are commonly in denial and will blame their fatigue on things such as aging or a side-effect of medication. In reality, as your brain attempts to make up for sound it can’t hear, you’re left feeling drained. Imagine you are taking a test such as the SAT where your brain is totally concentrated on processing the task at hand. You will most likely feel exhausted once you’re done. When you struggle to hear, the same thing occurs: your brain is working to fill in the blanks you’re missing in conversations – and if there is a lot of background sound this is even more overwhelming – and as you try to process the conversation, you use up valuable energy. This type of persistent exhaustion can impact your health by leaving you too run down to keep yourself healthy, leaving things like going to the gym or cooking healthy meals hard to accomplish.
Several studies by Johns Hopkins University linked hearing loss to , accelerated brain tissue loss, and dementia. Although these connections are not direct causations, they are correlations, it’s believed by researchers that the more cognitive resources expended trying to fill in the blanks of a conversation, the less you’ll have to dedicate to other things such as memorization and comprehension. And as people age, the additional drain on cognitive resources can speed up the decline of other brain functions and contribute to gray matter loss. The process of cognitive decline can be reduced and senior citizens can stay mentally fit by the regular exchange of ideas through conversation. The future for researchers is promising due to the discovery of a connection between the decline in cognitive function and hearing loss, since hearing and cognitive experts can work together to determine the causes and develop treatment options for these conditions.
Issues With Your Mental Health
The National Council on the Aging conducted a study of 2,300 seniors who suffered some form of hearing loss and discovered that paranoia, anxiety, and depression negatively affected the emotional well being more often than those who don’t have hearing loss. The link between loss of hearing and mental health problems makes sense since those with hearing loss often have trouble communicating with others in social or family scenarios. This can cause feelings of seclusion, which can eventually result in depression. If neglected, anxiety and even paranoia can surface due to these feelings of seclusion and exclusion. Hearing aids have been proven to assist in the recovery from depression, however, anyone who has depression, anxiety, or paranoia should consult with a mental health professional.
Our bodies are one interconnected machine – if one part quits working the way it’s supposed to, it could have a negative impact on another seemingly unrelated part. This is the situation with our ears and hearts. Case in point, hearing loss will take place when blood does not flow freely from the heart to the inner ear. Diabetes, which is also linked to heart disease, can impact the inner ear’s nerve endings and cause messages sent from the ear to the brain to become scrambled. In order to find out whether loss of hearing is caused by heart disease or diabetes, if you have a family history of those illnesses contact both a hearing expert and a cardiac specialist because ignoring the symptoms can lead to serious or possibly even fatal repercussions.
Please reach out to us if you are having any of the negative effects detailed above or if you have loss of hearing so we can help you live a healthier life. Make your appointment for a hearing test.