Hearing loss is a normal part of getting older, unfortunately. Roughly 38 million people in the US suffer from some form of hearing loss, but many people choose to simply neglect it because it’s a normal part of aging. However, beyond a person’s ability to hear, their whole health can be negatively impacted if they ignore their hearing loss.
Why do so many people choose to simply live with hearing loss? According to an AARP study, More than half of seniors cited costs as the major worry while one third regard hearing loss as a small issue that can be easily treated. However, those costs can increase astronomically when you take into account the serious side effects and conditions 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. Instead, they will connect exhaustion to a number of other factors, such as slowing down based on aging or a side-effect of medication. In truth, as your brain tries to make up for sound it doesn’t hear, you’re left feeling depleted. Visualize a task where you need to be completely focused like taking the SAT test. You will most likely feel drained once you’re done. The same thing occurs when you struggle to hear: your brain is working to fill in the blanks you’re missing in conversations – which is often made much more difficult when there is a lot of background sound – and spends valuable energy just trying to process the conversation. This type of persistent fatigue can affect your health by leaving you too run down to take care of yourself, leaving things like cooking healthy meals or going to the gym difficult to accomplish.
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 think that the more cognitive resources spent attempting to fill in the blanks of a conversation, the less the resources available for other things like comprehension and memory. The decline of brain function is accelerated and there is a loss of grey matter with the additional draw on cognitive ability that comes with growing older. Additionally, having a frequent exchange of information and ideas, often through conversation, is thought to help senior citizens stay mentally fit and can help delay the process of cognitive decay. The discovery of a link between loss of hearing and a decline in cognitive functions is promising for future research since the causes of these conditions can be identified and treatments can be developed when hearing and cognitive experts 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. The link between loss of hearing and mental health issues makes sense since those with loss of hearing often have difficulty communicating with others in social or family situations. This can lead to feelings of seclusion, which can eventually result in depression. Because of these feelings of exclusion and solitude, anxiety and even paranoia can be the result, particularly if neglected. Hearing aids have been shown to assist in the recovery from depression, however, anyone suffering from depression, anxiety, or paranoia should seek advice from with a mental health professional.
All the parts of our bodies are one interconnected machine – an apparently unconnected part can be impacted negatively if a different part quits working as it should. This is the case with our ears and hearts. For instance, hearing loss will happen when blood doesn’t flow freely from the heart to the inner ear. Diabetes, which is also linked to heart disease, can affect the inner ear’s nerve endings and scramble messages from the ear to the brain. Individuals who have noticed some amount of hearing loss and who have a history of heart disease or diabetes in their families should consult with both a hearing and cardiac specialist to determine whether the hearing loss is indeed caused by a heart condition, since ignoring the symptoms could lead to severe, potentially fatal consequences.
If you have loss of hearing or are having 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.