It’s a regrettable fact of life that loss of hearing is part of getting older. Roughly 38 million people suffer from some kind of hearing loss in the United States, but a lot of people decide to just ignore it because it’s a normal part of getting older. However, beyond a person’s ability to hear, their entire life can be negatively impacted if they ignore their hearing loss.
Why do many people choose to simply live with hearing loss? According to an AARP study, more than one-third of seniors think of hearing loss as a minor problem that can be dealt with easily enough, while more than half of the respondents cited cost as a concern. However, those costs can increase astronomically when you factor in the serious side effects and conditions that are caused by neglecting hearing loss. Here are the most common negative effects of neglecting hearing loss.
Most people will not immediately connect the dots from fatigue to hearing loss. They are commonly in denial and will attribute their fatigue on things such as getting older or a side-effect of medication. In actuality, as your brain tries to make up for sound it can’t hear, you’re left feeling fatigued. Imagine you are taking a test like the SAT where your brain is totally concentrated on processing the task at hand. Once you’re done, you most likely feel depleted. When you struggle to hear, the same thing occurs: your brain is doing work to fill in the blanks you’re missing in conversations – and when there is a lot of background noise this is even more overwhelming – and spends valuable energy just attempting to process the conversation. Your overall health can be affected by this type of chronic exhaustion and you can be left so tired you can’t take good care of yourself, passing up on things like going to the gym or cooking healthy meals.
Johns Hopkins University conducted a study that linked hearing loss to , accelerated brain tissue loss, and dementia. While these links are correlations instead of causations, researchers believe the more the blanks need to be filled in by the brain, the more the cognitive resources needed and the less there are to focus on other things like comprehension and memorization. And as people age, the increased draw on cognitive resources can speed up the decrease of other brain functions and contribute to gray matter loss. In addition, having a regular exchange of ideas and information, often through conversation, is thought to help senior citizens stay mentally tuned and can help delay the process of cognitive decline. The discovery of a link between hearing loss and a loss of cognitive functions is promising for future research since the causes of these conditions can be pinpointed and treatments can be developed when cognitive and hearing specialist work together.
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 paranoia, anxiety, and depression negatively affected the emotional health more often than those who don’t have hearing loss. The connection between hearing loss and mental health issues makes sense since people with hearing loss commonly have difficulty communicating with others in family or social situations. This can lead to depression after suffering from prolonged feelings of loneliness. Due to these feelings of exclusion and isolation, anxiety and even paranoia can be the consequence, especially if neglected. Hearing aids have been proven to assist in the recovery from depression, though anyone suffering from depression, anxiety, or paranoia should seek advice from with a mental health professional.
Our bodies are one interconnected machine – if one part quits functioning as it should, it might have a negative impact on another seemingly unrelated part. This is the case with our ears and hearts. As an example, when blood doesn’t flow easily from the heart to the inner ear, hearing loss will occur. Diabetes, which is also associated with heart disease, can impact the inner ear’s nerve endings and cause messages sent from the ear to the brain to become scrambled. 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 neglecting the symptoms can cause severe or even fatal consequences.
If you suffer from loss of hearing or are experiencing any of the negative effects listed above, feel free to contact us so we can help you live a healthier life. Schedule your appointment now.