Loss of hearing is a normal part of aging, unfortunately. Roughly 38 million people in the US have some form of hearing loss, but many people decide to just ignore it because it’s a normal part of aging. However, beyond a person’s ability to hear, their entire health can be negatively impacted if they ignore their hearing loss.
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 worry while one third consider hearing loss as a small problem that can be easily handled. When you factor in the conditions and serious side effects caused by neglecting hearing loss, however, the costs can go up 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. They are often in denial and will blame their fatigue on things like getting older or a side-effect of medication. In truth, as your brain attempts to compensate for sound it doesn’t hear, you’re left feeling drained. Imagine you are taking an exam such as the SAT where your brain is completely concentrated on processing the task at hand. When you’re done, you probably feel exhausted. The same thing happens when you struggle to hear: when having conversations, your brain is working to fill in the blanks – which is generally made much harder when there is a lot of background noise – and as you try to process the conversation, you spend valuable energy. Your overall health can be impacted by this type of chronic exhaustion and you can be left so run down you can’t take good care of yourself, passing up on things like going to the gym or cooking healthy meals.
Several studies by Johns Hopkins University linked hearing loss to , accelerated brain tissue loss, and dementia. Although these links are correlations instead of causations, it’s thought by researchers the more the blanks need to be filled in by the brain, the more the cognitive resources needed and the less the resources available for other things such as memory and comprehension. The decline of brain function is sped up and there is a loss of grey matter with the additional draw on cognitive capacity that comes with getting older. In addition, having a regular exchange of ideas and information, often through conversation, is thought to help seniors stay mentally tuned and can help reduce the process of cognitive decay. The fact that a link was discovered between hearing loss and a loss of cognitive functions is encouraging for future research since hearing and cognitive specialists can team up to determine the causes and formulate 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 people who neglected their hearing problem had mental health troubles such as depression, anxiety, and paranoia, which negatively affected their emotional and social well-being. Since trouble communicating with others in social and family situations is common for those with hearing loss, the link between mental health issues and hearing loss seems logical. This can lead to depression after suffering from prolonged feelings of isolation. If neglected, anxiety and even paranoia can appear 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 parts of our bodies are one interconnected machine – an apparently unconnected part can be affected negatively if another part stops functioning as it is supposed to. This is the situation with our hearts and ears. Case in point, hearing loss will happen when blood does not flow easily from the heart to the inner ear. Diabetes, which is also associated with heart disease, can affect the inner ear’s nerve endings and scramble messages from the ear to the brain. In order to determine whether hearing loss 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 severe or possibly even fatal consequences.
Please reach out to us if you are experiencing any of the negative effects listed above or if you have hearing loss so we can help you live a healthier life. Schedule your appointment now.