It’s a regrettable fact of life that loss of hearing is part of the aging process. Roughly 38 million people suffer from some kind of hearing loss in the United States, though since hearing loss is expected as we age, many decide to ignore it. However, beyond a person’s ability to hear, their entire life can be negatively impacted if they ignore their hearing loss.
Why do so many people choose to simply live with hearing loss? According to an AARP study, more than one-third of senior citizens consider hearing loss to be a minor issue that can be dealt with easily enough, while more than half of the respondents cited cost as a worry. However, those costs can increase astronomically when you take into account the serious side effects and conditions that are caused by neglecting hearing loss. Neglecting hearing loss has the following negative side effects.
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 getting older or a side-effect of medication. In actuality, as your brain tries to compensate for sound it doesn’t hear, you’re left feeling depleted. Visualize a task where you have to be totally concentrated like taking the SAT exam. After you’re done, you most likely feel exhausted. The same thing occurs when you struggle to hear: during conversations, your brain is working to fill in the blanks – and when there is a lot of background sound this is even more difficult – and burns valuable energy just attempting to process the conversation. This type of persistent fatigue can impact your health by leaving you too tired to keep yourself healthy, leaving things like going to the gym or cooking healthy meals hard to accomplish.
Johns Hopkins University conducted a study that linked hearing loss to , accelerated brain tissue loss, and dementia. While these connections are correlations instead of causations, it’s believed by researchers that the more cognitive resources spent attempting to fill in the blanks of a conversation, the less you’ll have to focus on other things like memorization and comprehension. And as people get older, the greater drain on cognitive resources can accelerate the decline of other brain functions and contribute to gray matter loss. In addition, having a frequent exchange of ideas and information, often through conversation, is thought to help seniors stay mentally tuned and can help reduce the process of cognitive decline. The future for researchers is promising due to the discovery of a link between the decline in cognitive function and hearing loss, since the causes of these conditions can be determined and treatments can be developed when hearing and cognitive experts work together.
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. Since problems communicating with others in social and family situations is typical for those with hearing loss, the link between mental health issues and hearing loss seems logical. This can result in depression after suffering from prolonged feelings of seclusion. Due to these feelings of exclusion and solitude, anxiety and even paranoia can be the result, especially if neglected. Hearing aids have been proven to aid in the recovery from depression, however, anyone suffering from depression, anxiety, or paranoia should consult with a mental health professional.
All the parts of our bodies are one interconnected machine – an evidently unconnected part can be affected negatively if another part stops functioning as it is supposed to. This is the case with our hearts and ears. As an example, when blood doesn’t flow easily from the heart to the inner ear, loss of hearing will happen. 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. Individuals who have noticed some amount of hearing loss and who have a history of heart disease or diabetes in their families should seek advice from both a hearing and cardiac specialist to determine whether the hearing loss is indeed caused by a heart condition, since neglecting the symptoms could lead to serious, potentially fatal repercussions.
Please contact us if you are having any of the negative effects detailed above or if you suffer from loss of hearing so we can help you live a healthier life. Make your appointment for a hearing test.