The regrettable truth is, as you get older, your hearing starts to go. Approximately 38 million people in the U.S. deal with some kind of hearing loss, but because hearing loss is expected as we age, many people decide to just deal with it. But beyond the ability to hear, ignoring hearing loss can have serious adverse side effects.
Why do so many people choose to just deal with hearing loss? According to an AARP study, more than one-third of senior citizens consider hearing loss to be a minor concern that can be managed easily enough, while cost was a worry for more than half of people who participated in the study. The costs of neglecting hearing loss, however, can become a great deal higher because of complications and side effects that come with leaving it untreated. Here are the most common negative consequences of neglecting hearing loss.
The dots will not be connected by most people from fatigue to hearing loss. They will say, instead, that they are slowing down due to the side-effects of a medication or because they’re getting older. The fact is that the less you can hear, the more your body works to compensate for it, leaving you feeling drained. Recall how fatigued you were at times in your life when your brain needed to be completely focused on a task for extended time periods. Once you’re finished, you probably feel drained. The same thing happens when you struggle to hear: your brain is working to fill in the blanks you’re missing in conversations – which, when there is too much background noise, is even more difficult – and uses up valuable energy just trying to process the conversation. Taking care of yourself requires energy which you won’t have with this kind of chronic exhaustion. To adjust, you will skip life-essential activities such as working out or eating healthy.
Decline of Cognitive Function
Hearing loss has been connected, by several Johns Hopkins University studies, to decreased brain functions , increased brain tissue loss, and dementia. While these links are correlations, not causations, it’s theorized by researchers that, again, the more cognitive resources that are spent trying to fill in the blanks of a conversation, the less you have to give attention to other things including comprehension and memorization. And decreasing brain function, as we age is, directly linked to an additional draw on our cognitive resources. Moreover, it’s believed that the process of cognitive decline can be lessened and mental wellness can be maintained by a continued exchange of ideas, usually through conversation. Fortunately, cognitive specialist and hearing specialist can use the known link between mental decline and hearing loss to collaborate to carry out research and establish treatments that are encouraging in the near future.
Mental Health Issues
The National Council on the Aging conducted a study of 2,300 seniors who were dealing with some form of hearing loss and found that people who left their condition untreated were more likely to also be dealing with mental health issues including depression, anxiety, and paranoia, which negatively impacted their emotional and social happiness. The connection between mental health issues and hearing loss adds up since, in family and social situations, people who cope with hearing loss have a hard time communicating with others. This can result in feelings of isolation, which can ultimately lead to depression. Feelings of exclusion and separation can worsen to anxiety and even paranoia if left untreated. If you suffer from anxiety or depression, you need to consult a mental health professional and you also should be aware that hearing aids have been shown to help people recover from some forms of depression.
If one portion of your body, which is a coordinated machine, stops working properly, it might have an affect on seemingly unrelated bodily functions. This is the situation with our hearts and ears. Case in point, hearing loss will occur when blood doesn’t easily flow from the heart to the inner ear. Diabetes, which is also connected to heart disease, can impact the inner ear’s nerve endings and cause information sent from the ear to the brain to become scrambled. If heart disease is neglected serious or even possibly fatal repercussions can happen. So if you’ve detected some hearing loss and you have a history of heart disease or heart disease in your family you should consult both a hearing and a cardiac specialist so that you can figure out if your hearing loss is linked to a heart condition.
If you deal with hearing loss or are experiencing any of the adverse effects listed above, please contact us for a consultation so we can help you live a healthier life.