Loss of hearing is a normal part of aging, unfortunately. Approximately 38 million people suffer from some kind of hearing loss in the United States, but because hearing loss is expected as we age, many people choose to leave it unchecked. However, beyond a person’s ability to hear, their entire life can be negatively affected if they ignore their hearing loss.
Why do so many people decide 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 small problem that can be easily handled. When you consider the conditions and serious side effects caused by neglecting hearing loss, however, the costs can increase astronomically. 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 fatigue to several different factors, like slowing down due to aging or a side-effect of medication. The truth is that the less you are able to hear, the more your body works to compensate, leaving you feeling tired. Imagine you are taking an exam like the SAT where your brain is completely concentrated on processing the task at hand. You will likely feel depleted once you’re done. When you struggle to hear, the same thing happens: 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 difficult – and as you try to process the conversation, you deplete precious energy. Your health can be impacted by this type of chronic fatigue and you can be left so run down you can’t take good care of yourself, leaving things like going to the gym or cooking healthy meals difficult to accomplish.
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 think that the more cognitive resources expended trying to fill in the blanks of a conversation, the less the resources available for other things such as comprehension and memory. 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. The process of cognitive decline can be slowed down and seniors can stay mentally tuned by the regular exchange of ideas through conversation. The discovery of a link between loss of hearing and a decline in cognitive functions is encouraging for future research since the causes of these ailments can be pinpointed and treatments can be developed 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 paranoia, anxiety, and depression negatively affected the emotional well being more often than those who don’t have hearing loss. Since difficulty communicating with others in family and social situations is common for those with hearing loss, the link between mental health problems and hearing loss makes sense. This can lead to feelings of isolation, which can eventually lead to depression. Because of these feelings of exclusion and isolation, anxiety and even paranoia can be the result, especially if left untreated. It’s been demonstrated that recovery from depression is aided by wearing hearing aids. But a mental health professional should still be contacted if you suffer from paranoia, depression, or anxiety.
All the parts of our bodies are one interconnected machine – an apparently unconnected part can be affected negatively if another part quits functioning as it should. This is the situation with our ears and hearts. As an example, when blood doesn’t flow freely from the heart to the inner ear, loss of hearing will happen. Another disease that can impact the inner ear’s nerve ending, and is also linked to heart disease is diabetes which causes messages from the ear to the brain to be scrambled. People who have detected some level of hearing loss and who have a history of heart disease or diabetes in their families should contact both a cardiac and hearing 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.
Please reach out to us if you are having any of the negative effects detailed above or if you have hearing loss so we can help you live a healthier life. Make your appointment for a hearing test.