It’s a regrettable fact of life that hearing loss is part of getting older. Roughly 38 million people in the US suffer from some form of hearing loss, but because hearing loss is expected as we age, many choose to ignore it. Neglecting hearing loss, however, can have serious negative side effects on a person’s entire health beyond their inability to hear.
Why do so many people resist getting help for their 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 handled easily enough, while more than half of the respondents cited cost as a concern. However, those costs can increase astronomically when you take into account the serious side effects and conditions that are brought on by neglecting hearing loss. Here are the most prevalent 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 a number of different factors, like slowing down based on getting older or a side-effect of medication. The reality is that the less you are able to hear, the more your body works to compensate, leaving you feeling drained. Imagine you are taking an exam such as the SAT where your brain is completely focused on processing the task at hand. After you’re done, you probably feel drained. When you struggle to hear, the same thing occurs: your brain is doing work to fill in the blanks you’re missing in conversations – which is often made even harder when there is a lot of background sound – and burns valuable energy just attempting to digest the discussion. Your overall health can be impacted by this type of persistent exhaustion and you can be left so tired 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. Even though these links are not direct causations, they are correlations, 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 dedicate to other things such as comprehension and memorization. The decrease of brain function is accelerated and there is a loss of grey matter with the increased draw on cognitive ability that comes with getting older. In addition, having a frequent exchange of information and ideas, often through conversation, is believed to help seniors stay mentally tuned and can help slow the process of cognitive decay. The discovery of a link between hearing loss and a decline in cognitive functions is promising for future research since the causes of these ailments can be pinpointed and treatments can be formulated when hearing and cognitive 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 those who ignored their hearing condition had mental health issues like depression, anxiety, and paranoia, which negatively affected their social and emotional 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 scenarios. This can cause feelings of isolation, which can eventually lead to depression. Due to these feelings of exclusion and isolation, anxiety and even paranoia can be the result, particularly if neglected. Hearing aids have been proven to help in the recovery from depression, though 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 quits working as it should. This is the case with our hearts and ears. Case in point, hearing loss will happen when blood does not flow easily from the heart to the inner ear. Diabetes, which is also connected to heart disease, can affect the inner ear’s nerve endings and cause messages sent from the ear to the brain to become scrambled. Individuals who have detected 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 determine whether the hearing loss is indeed triggered by a heart condition, since ignoring the symptoms could lead to serious, potentially fatal consequences.
If you suffer from hearing loss or are experiencing any of the negative effects listed above, please contact us so we can help you live a healthier life. Make your appointment for a hearing test.