Loss of hearing is a normal part of aging, unfortunately. Roughly 38 million people in the United States suffer from some form of hearing loss, but since hearing loss is expected as we get older, many people decide to ignore it. However, beyond a person’s ability to hear, their overall health can be negatively impacted if they neglect their hearing loss.
Why do so many people choose to just live with hearing loss? According to an AARP study, More than half of seniors cited costs as the major concern while one third regard hearing loss as a small issue that can be easily handled. When you factor in the conditions and significant side effects caused by ignoring hearing loss, however, the costs can go up dramatically. 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 a number of different factors, like slowing down due to getting older or a side-effect of medication. The truth is that the less you are able to hear, the more your body works to make up for it, leaving you feeling tired. Imagine you are taking a test such as the SAT where your brain is totally concentrated on processing the task at hand. After you’re done, you most likely feel drained. When you struggle to hear, the same thing happens: when having conversations, your brain is working to fill in the blanks – and if there is a lot of background noise this is even more overwhelming – and as you try to process the information, you use up valuable energy. Your overall health can be impacted by this type of persistent exhaustion and you can be left so run down you can’t take good care of yourself, skipping out on things like cooking healthy meals or going to the gym.
Several studies by Johns Hopkins University 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 you’ll have to focus on other things such as memorization and comprehension. And as people get older, the additional drain on cognitive resources can speed up the decline of other brain functions and contribute to gray matter loss. Additionally, having a frequent exchange of ideas and information, often through conversation, is believed to help seniors stay mentally tuned and can help slow the process of cognitive decline. The future for researchers is promising due to the discovery of a link between the decrease in cognitive function and hearing loss, since the causes of these ailments can be determined and treatments can be developed when cognitive and hearing experts work together.
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 neglected their hearing problem had mental health issues such as depression, anxiety, and paranoia, which negatively impacted their social and emotional well-being. The connection 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 lead to feelings of seclusion, which can eventually result in depression. If left untreated, anxiety and even paranoia can appear due to these feelings of isolation and exclusion. It’s been shown that recovery from depression is assisted by hearing aids. But a mental health professional should still be contacted if you have depression, anxiety, or paranoia.
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. As an example, when blood doesn’t flow freely from the heart to the inner ear, loss of hearing will happen. 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. People who have noticed some amount of hearing loss and who have a history of heart disease or diabetes in their families should seek advice from both a cardiac and hearing specialist to find out whether the hearing loss is indeed triggered by a heart condition, since neglecting the symptoms could lead to serious, potentially fatal consequences.
Please reach out to us if you are experiencing any of the negative effects detailed above or if you suffer from hearing loss so we can help you live a healthier life. Schedule your appointment now.