It’s a regrettable fact of life that hearing loss is part of the aging process. Approximately 38 million people in the United States suffer from some form of hearing loss, but because hearing loss is anticipated as we get older, many people choose to leave it unchecked. Neglecting hearing loss, however, can have serious negative side effects on a person’s general well-being beyond their inability to hear.
Why do so many people choose to just accept hearing loss? According to an AARP study, more than one-third of senior citizens consider hearing loss to be a minor problem that can be handled easily enough, while more than half of the participants cited cost as a problem. The consequences of neglecting hearing loss, though, can become a great deal higher due to complications and adverse reactions that come with ignoring it. Here are the most common negative effects of neglecting hearing loss.
Most people will not immediately connect the dots from fatigue to hearing loss. They will say, rather, that they are slowing down because of the side-effects of a medication or because they’re getting older. The reality is that the less you can hear, the more your body struggles to make up for it, leaving you feeling drained. Imagine you are taking an exam such as the SAT where your brain is totally focused on processing the task at hand. Once you’re done, you probably feel exhausted. When you are struggling to hear, it’s a similar situation: when there are missing spots in conversation, your brain has to work hard to fill in the missing information – which, when there is too much background noise, is even harder – and simply attempting to process information consumes valuable energy. This type of chronic fatigue can affect your health by leaving you too tired to take care of yourself, skipping out on things like working out or cooking wholesome meals.
Decline of Brain Function
Hearing loss has been linked, by a number of Johns Hopkins University studies, to decreased cognitive functions , accelerated loss of brain tissue, and dementia. Although these connections are not causation, they’re correlations, it’s theorized by researchers that, again, the more frequently you need to fill in the conversational blanks, which consumes mental resources, the less you have to focus on other things like memorization and comprehension. And decreasing brain function, as we get older is, directly linked to an increased draw on our mental resources. On top of that, it’s believed that the process of mental decline can be lessened and mental wellness can be preserved by a continued exchange of ideas, usually through conversation. Fortunately, cognitive specialist and hearing specialist can use the recognized connection between cognitive decline and hearing loss to collaborate to carry out research and develop treatments that are promising in the near future.
Mental Health Problems
The National Council on the Aging found, from a study of over two thousand seniors, that mental health issues which have a negative social and emotional affect, are more prevalent if there is also neglected hearing loss. The link between mental health issues and hearing loss seems logical since people who suffer from hearing loss frequently have difficulty communicating with other people in family or social situations. Eventually, feelings of separation could develop into depression. If left untreated, anxiety and even paranoia can appear as a result of these feelings of separation and exclusion. Hearing aids have been proven to help in the recovery from depression, although anyone suffering from depression, anxiety, or paranoia should contact a mental health professional.
Our bodies are one interconnected machine – if one component stops functioning like it should, it may have a negative affect on another apparently unrelated part. This is the way it is with our hearts and ears. As a case in point, if blood flow from the heart to the inner ear is restricted, hearing loss may happen. Diabetes, which is also linked to heart disease, can impact the inner ear’s nerve endings and cause information sent to the brain from the ear to get scrambled. People who have noticed some amount of hearing loss and who have a history of diabetes or heart disease in their families should consult with both a hearing and cardiac specialist to figure out whether the hearing loss is indeed caused by a heart condition, since ignoring the symptoms might lead to serious, possibly fatal repercussions.
If you want to begin living a healthier life, reach out to us so we can help you resolve any adverse effects of hearing loss that you might suffer.