Loss of hearing is a normal part of getting older, unfortunately. Approximately 38 million people in the US have some form of hearing loss, but since hearing loss is expected as we age, many choose to leave it unchecked. Ignoring hearing loss, however, can have severe negative side effects on a person’s entire well-being beyond their inability to hear.
Why do many people decide to just 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 managed easily enough, while more than half of the respondents cited cost as a concern. However, those costs can rise astronomically when you factor in the significant side effects and ailments that are triggered by ignoring hearing loss. Here are the most prevalent 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 blame their fatigue on things such as getting older or a side-effect of medication. In actuality, as your brain tries to compensate for sound it can’t hear, you’re left feeling fatigued. Imagine you are taking an exam like the SAT where your brain is totally concentrated on processing the task at hand. Once you’re done, you most likely feel drained. The same thing occurs when you struggle to hear: your brain is working to fill in the blanks you’re missing in conversations – and if there is a lot of background noise this is even more difficult – and spends valuable energy just trying to process the conversation. This type of persistent exhaustion can impact your health by leaving you too tired to take care of yourself, skipping out on things like cooking healthy meals or going to the gym.
Johns Hopkins University conducted a study that linked hearing loss to , accelerated brain tissue loss, and dementia. Even though these connections are not direct causations, they are correlations, researchers believe 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 such as comprehension and memorization. The decline of brain function is accelerated and there is a loss of grey matter with the increased draw on cognitive capacity that comes with getting older. The process of cognitive decline can be delayed and seniors can stay mentally fit 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 hearing and cognitive specialists can work together to pinpoint the causes and develop treatment options for these ailments.
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 those who ignored their hearing problem had mental health issues like depression, anxiety, and paranoia, which negatively affected their emotional and social well-being. The link between hearing loss and mental health issues makes sense since those with loss of hearing commonly have trouble communicating with others in social or family situations. This can bring on depression after suffering from prolonged feelings of loneliness. Because of these feelings of exclusion and isolation, anxiety and even paranoia can be the consequence, particularly if left untreated. Hearing aids have been proven to aid in the recovery from depression, however, 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 apparently unrelated part. This is the situation with our ears and hearts. For instance, hearing loss will take place when blood doesn’t flow freely from the heart to the inner ear. Diabetes, which is also linked to heart disease, can impact the inner ear’s nerve endings and scramble messages from the ear to the brain. People who have noticed some degree 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 find out 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 having any of the negative effects listed above or if you have loss of hearing so we can help you live a healthier life. Make your appointment for a hearing test.