It’s a regrettable fact of life that loss of hearing is part of the aging process. Approximately 38 million people suffer from some kind of hearing loss in the United States, but a lot of people decide to simply ignore it because it’s a normal part of aging. However, beyond a person’s ability to hear, their whole health can be negatively affected if they neglect their hearing loss.
Why do so many people choose to simply live with hearing loss? According to an AARP study, More than half of senior citizens cited costs as the major concern while one third regard hearing loss as a minor problem that can be easily handled. When you factor in the conditions and serious side effects caused by ignoring hearing loss, however, the costs can go up astronomically. Ignoring hearing loss has the following negative side effects.
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 such as aging or a side-effect of medication. In truth, as your brain attempts to compensate for sound it can’t hear, you’re left feeling exhausted. Imagine you are taking an exam such as the SAT where your brain is completely focused on processing the task at hand. When you’re finished, you probably feel exhausted. When you struggle to hear, the same thing occurs: during conversations, your brain is working to fill in the blanks – and if there is a lot of background noise this is even more overwhelming – and uses up valuable energy just attempting to process the conversation. This type of persistent exhaustion can affect your health by leaving you too run down to keep yourself healthy, leaving things like cooking healthy meals or going to the gym difficult to accomplish.
Several studies by Johns Hopkins University linked hearing loss to , accelerated brain tissue loss, and dementia. While these connections are correlations instead of causations, researchers think 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 comprehension and memorization. And as people get older, the additional drain on cognitive resources can accelerate the decrease of other brain functions and contribute to gray matter loss. Additionally, having a regular exchange of information and ideas, often through conversation, is believed to help seniors stay mentally fit and can help reduce the process of cognitive decay. The future for researchers is promising due to the discovery of a link between the decrease in cognitive function and hearing loss, since the causes of these ailments can be determined and treatments can be developed when cognitive and hearing specialist 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 health more often than those who don’t have hearing loss. Since difficulty communicating with others in family and social situations is normal for those with hearing loss, the connection between mental health issues and hearing loss makes sense. This can cause feelings of isolation, which can eventually result in depression. If neglected, anxiety and even paranoia can appear due to these feelings of isolation and exclusion. Hearing aids have been shown to help 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 impacted negatively if a different part stops functioning as it should. This is the case with our hearts and ears. As an example, when blood doesn’t flow freely from the heart to the inner ear, loss of hearing will happen. Diabetes, which is also connected to heart disease, can impact the inner ear’s nerve endings and scramble messages from the ear to the brain. Individuals who have detected some amount of hearing loss and who have a history of heart disease or diabetes in their families should consult with both a cardiac and hearing 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 get in touch with us if you are experiencing any of the negative effects outlined above or if you have hearing loss so we can help you live a healthier life. Schedule your appointment now.