Loss of hearing is a normal part of aging, unfortunately. Roughly 38 million people suffer from some kind of hearing loss in the United States, but many people decide to simply neglect 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 many people decide to just live with hearing loss? According to an AARP study, More than half of seniors cited costs as the major concern while one third regard hearing loss as a small issue that can be easily handled. However, those costs can increase astronomically when you take into account the serious side effects and conditions that are brought on by neglecting hearing loss. Here are the most prevalent negative effects of ignoring hearing loss.
Most people will not immediately connect the dots from fatigue to hearing loss. They are often in denial and will blame their fatigue on things such as getting older or a side-effect of medication. In reality, as your brain tries to make up for sound it can’t hear, you’re left feeling exhausted. Imagine you are taking an exam like the SAT where your brain is totally focused on processing the task at hand. After you’re done, you likely feel exhausted. The same thing occurs when you struggle to hear: your brain is doing work to fill in the blanks you’re missing in conversations – and if there is a lot of background noise this is even more difficult – and uses up valuable energy just trying to digest the discussion. Your overall health can be impacted by this type of chronic fatigue and you can be left so tired you can’t take good care of yourself, leaving things like going to the gym or cooking healthy meals difficult to accomplish.
Johns Hopkins University conducted a study that linked hearing loss to , accelerated brain tissue loss, and dementia. Although these connections are correlations instead of causations, it’s thought by researchers that the more cognitive resources used trying to fill in the blanks of a conversation, the less the resources available for other things like comprehension and memory. The decline of brain function is sped up and there is a loss of grey matter with the increased draw on cognitive ability that comes with growing older. Additionally, having a regular exchange of ideas and information, often through conversation, is believed to help seniors stay mentally tuned and can help reduce the process of cognitive decay. The fact that a link was discovered between loss of hearing and a decline in cognitive functions is encouraging for future research since the causes of these conditions can be identified and treatment options can be developed when hearing and cognitive experts team up.
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 those who ignored their hearing condition had mental health troubles such as depression, anxiety, and paranoia, which negatively affected their emotional and social well-being. The link between hearing loss and mental health issues makes sense since people with loss of hearing often have difficulty communicating with others in family or social situations. This can result in depression after suffering from prolonged feelings of loneliness. If left untreated, anxiety and even paranoia can surface due to these feelings of seclusion and exclusion. It’s been demonstrated that recovery from depression is aided by wearing hearing aids. But a mental health professional should still be consulted if you suffer from paranoia, depression, or anxiety.
Our bodies are one interconnected machine – if one part quits functioning as it should, it could have a negative impact on another seemingly unrelated part. This is the situation with our hearts and ears. Case in point, hearing loss will take place when blood doesn’t flow easily from the heart to the inner ear. Diabetes, which is also associated with 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 ascertain whether loss of hearing is caused by heart disease or diabetes, if you have a family history of those illnesses consult both a hearing expert and a cardiac specialist because neglecting the symptoms can result in serious or possibly even fatal consequences.
If you suffer from loss of hearing or are having any of the negative effects listed above, feel free to reach out to us so we can help you live a healthier life. Schedule your appointment now.