Loss of hearing is a normal part of the aging process, unfortunately. Approximately 38 million people in the United States have some form of hearing loss, but many people choose to just ignore it because it’s a normal part of getting older. However, beyond a person’s ability to hear, their overall life can be negatively affected 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 managed easily enough, while more than half of the respondents cited cost as a worry. When you consider the conditions and serious side effects caused by ignoring hearing loss, however, the costs can go up dramatically. Here are the most common negative effects of ignoring hearing loss.
Most people will not immediately connect the dots from fatigue to hearing loss. Alternatively, they will attribute exhaustion to several different factors, like slowing down based on getting older or a side-effect of medication. In reality, as your brain tries to make up for sound it doesn’t hear, you’re left feeling depleted. Visualize a task where you have to be totally focused like taking the SAT exam. You will most likely feel depleted once you finish. When you struggle to hear, the same thing occurs: during conversations, your brain is working to fill in the blanks – which is often made even more difficult when there is a lot of background sound – and spends precious energy just attempting to process the conversation. Your overall health can be impacted by this type of persistent fatigue and you can be left so run down you can’t take good care of yourself, leaving things like cooking healthy meals or going to the gym difficult 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 used trying to fill in the blanks of a conversation, the less there are to focus on other things such as comprehension and memorization. And as people get older, the greater draw on cognitive resources can accelerate the decrease of other brain functions and contribute to gray matter loss. The process of cognitive decline can be reduced and seniors can stay mentally tuned by the regular exchange of ideas through conversation. The future for researchers is promising due to the discovery of a connection between the decline in cognitive function and loss of hearing, since the causes of these conditions can be identified and treatments can be formulated when hearing and cognitive 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 condition had mental health troubles like 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 those with loss of hearing often have trouble communicating with others in social or family situations. This can cause feelings of seclusion, which can eventually result in depression. Due to these feelings of exclusion and solitude, anxiety and even paranoia can be the consequence, specifically if left untreated. Hearing aids have been proven to aid in the recovery from depression, though anyone suffering from depression, anxiety, or paranoia should talk to with a mental health professional.
All the parts of our bodies are one interconnected machine – an apparently unconnected part can be impacted negatively if another part quits working as it is supposed to. This is the case 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 linked to heart disease, can impact the inner ear’s nerve endings and scramble messages from the ear to the brain. Those who have noticed some level 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 find out whether the hearing loss is indeed caused by a heart condition, since neglecting the symptoms could lead to severe, possibly fatal consequences.
If you have loss of hearing or are having any of the negative effects outlined above, feel free to contact us so we can help you live a healthier life. Schedule your appointment now.