It’s a regrettable fact of life that hearing loss is part of the aging process. Roughly 38 million people in the US have some form of hearing loss, but many people choose to just ignore it because it’s a normal part of getting older. Neglecting hearing loss, however, can have serious negative side effects on a person’s overall well-being beyond their inability to hear.
Why do so many people resist getting help for their hearing loss? According to an AARP study, More than half of senior citizens cited costs as the major worry while one third consider hearing loss as a minor problem that can be easily treated. However, those costs can rise astronomically when you take into account the serious side effects and ailments that are brought on by neglecting hearing loss. Here are the most common 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 other factors, like slowing down due to aging or a side-effect of medication. In reality, as your brain tries to compensate for sound it can’t hear, you’re left feeling fatigued. Imagine you are taking an exam like the SAT where your brain is totally focused on processing the task at hand. You will probably feel exhausted once you finish. When you struggle to hear, the same thing happens: 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 burns precious energy just attempting to digest the discussion. This type of chronic exhaustion can impact your health by leaving you too tired to take care of yourself, skipping out 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. While these links are not direct causations, they are correlations, researchers believe that the more cognitive resources used attempting to fill in the blanks of a conversation, the less the resources available for other things like 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 ability that comes with getting older. The process of cognitive decline can be slowed down and senior citizens can stay mentally tuned by the regular exchange of ideas through conversation. The fact that a link was discovered between hearing loss and a decline in cognitive functions is promising for future research since the causes of these conditions can be identified and treatments 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 paranoia, anxiety, and depression negatively affected the emotional well being more often than those who don’t have hearing loss. The connection between loss of hearing and mental health issues makes sense since people with hearing loss commonly have difficulty communicating with others in social or family scenarios. This can cause feelings of isolation, which can eventually lead to depression. Due to these feelings of exclusion and isolation, anxiety and even paranoia can be the result, specifically if neglected. Hearing aids have been proven to assist in the recovery from depression, however, anyone who has 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 another part stops working as it should. This is the case with our hearts and ears. For instance, hearing loss will occur when blood does not flow easily 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 get mixed up. 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 consult both a hearing expert and a cardiac specialist because ignoring the symptoms can result in serious or possibly even fatal consequences.
If you suffer from hearing loss or are having any of the negative effects outlined above, please contact us so we can help you live a healthier life. Make your appointment for a hearing test.