It’s a regrettable fact of life that hearing loss is part of the aging process. Approximately 38 million people suffer from some kind of hearing loss in the United States, but a lot of people choose to just ignore it because it’s a normal part of getting older. Neglecting hearing loss, however, can have severe negative side effects on a person’s entire health beyond their inability to hear.
Why do so many people choose to just live with hearing loss? According to an AARP study, More than half of seniors cited costs as the major worry while one third regard hearing loss as a small problem that can be easily treated. When you consider the conditions and significant side effects caused by ignoring hearing loss, however, the costs can rise astronomically. Here are the most prevalent negative effects of ignoring hearing loss.
Most people will not immediately connect the dots from fatigue to hearing loss. Instead, they will connect fatigue to several different factors, such as slowing down based on aging or a side-effect of medication. The truth is that the less you can hear, the more your body works to make up for it, leaving you feeling exhausted. Imagine you are taking an exam like the SAT where your brain is completely concentrated on processing the task at hand. Once you’re finished, you likely feel drained. When you struggle to hear, the same thing happens: during conversations, your brain is trying to fill in the blanks – which is often made even more difficult when there is a lot of background noise – and as you attempt to process the information, you spend precious energy. Your overall health can be affected by this type of persistent fatigue and you can be left so tired you keep yourself healthy, passing up on things like cooking healthy meals or going to the gym.
Johns Hopkins University conducted a study that linked hearing loss to , accelerated brain tissue loss, and dementia. Although these links are not direct causations, they are correlations, it’s believed by researchers that the more cognitive resources spent attempting to fill in the blanks of a conversation, the less the resources available for other things such as comprehension and memory. The decline of brain function is accelerated and there is a loss of grey matter with the increased draw on cognitive capacity that comes with growing older. Also, having a frequent exchange of information and ideas, often through conversation, is thought to help seniors stay mentally fit and can help reduce the process of cognitive decay. The future for researchers is encouraging due to the discovery of a link between the decline in cognitive function and hearing loss, since the causes of these ailments can be identified and treatment options can be developed when cognitive and hearing experts work together.
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 people who neglected their hearing problem had mental health troubles such as depression, anxiety, and paranoia, which negatively affected their social and emotional well-being. Since trouble communicating with others in family and social situations is typical for those with hearing loss, the link between mental health issues and hearing loss seems logical. This can lead to feelings of seclusion, which can eventually result in depression. Due to these feelings of exclusion and solitude, anxiety and even paranoia can be the result, particularly if neglected. Hearing aids have been shown to assist in the recovery from depression, however, anyone suffering from depression, anxiety, or paranoia should talk to with a mental health professional.
All the parts of our bodies are one interconnected machine – an evidently unconnected part can be impacted negatively if a different part stops functioning as it is supposed to. 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. Another disease that can impact the inner ear’s nerve ending, and is also associated with heart disease is diabetes which causes messages 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 result in serious or possibly even fatal repercussions.
Please get in touch with us if you are having any of the negative effects outlined above or if you have loss of hearing so we can help you live a healthier life. Make your appointment for a hearing test.