Hearing loss is a normal part of the aging process, unfortunately. Roughly 38 million people suffer from some kind of hearing loss in the United States, but since hearing loss is expected as we age, many decide to ignore it. However, beyond a person’s ability to hear, their whole life can be negatively impacted if they neglect their hearing loss.
Why do so many people decide to just live with 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 respondents cited cost as a concern. When you consider the conditions and significant side effects caused by neglecting hearing loss, however, the costs can go up astronomically. Here are the most common negative effects of neglecting hearing loss.
Most people will not immediately connect the dots from fatigue to hearing loss. Instead, they will connect exhaustion to several other factors, such as slowing down based on aging or a side-effect of medication. In truth, as your brain attempts to make up for sound it doesn’t hear, you’re left feeling drained. Visualize a task where you need to be totally focused like taking the SAT exam. Once you’re done, you most likely feel drained. The same thing occurs when you struggle to hear: your brain is working to fill in the blanks you’re missing in conversations – which is often made even more difficult when there is a lot of background sound – and as you attempt to process the conversation, you deplete valuable energy. This type of persistent exhaustion can impact your health by leaving you too tired to take care of yourself, skipping out on things like going to the gym or cooking healthy meals.
Johns Hopkins University conducted a study that linked hearing loss to , accelerated brain tissue loss, and dementia. Even though these links are not direct causations, they are correlations, it’s thought by researchers that the more cognitive resources expended attempting 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 accelerated and there is a loss of grey matter with the additional draw on cognitive capacity that comes with growing older. Also, having a regular exchange of information and ideas, often through conversation, is thought to help senior citizens stay mentally fit and can help slow the process of cognitive decay. The fact that a link was discovered between loss of hearing and a decline in cognitive functions is promising for future research since the causes of these conditions can be determined and treatments can be developed when cognitive and hearing experts team up.
Mental Health Issues
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 neglected their hearing problem had mental health issues like depression, anxiety, and paranoia, which negatively impacted their social and emotional well-being. The link between loss of hearing and mental health problems makes sense since those with loss of hearing commonly have trouble communicating with others in social or family scenarios. This can lead to feelings of seclusion, which can eventually lead to depression. If left untreated, anxiety and even paranoia can surface due to these feelings of isolation and exclusion. It’s been demonstrated that recovery from depression is helped by hearing aids. But a mental health professional should still be consulted if you suffer from depression, anxiety, or paranoia.
All the different parts of our bodies are one interconnected machine – an apparently unconnected part can be impacted negatively if another part stops functioning as it is supposed to. This is the situation with our ears and hearts. For instance, hearing loss will happen when blood doesn’t flow freely from the heart to the inner ear. Another disease that can impact the inner ear’s nerve ending, and is also connected to heart disease is diabetes which causes messages from the ear to the brain to become mixed up. In order to find out whether hearing loss 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 ignoring the symptoms can cause serious or even fatal consequences.
Please contact us if you are experiencing any of the negative effects listed above or if you suffer from loss of hearing so we can help you live a healthier life. Schedule your appointment now.