It’s an unfortunate fact of life that loss of hearing is part of getting older. Roughly 38 million people in the United States suffer from some form of hearing loss, though because hearing loss is expected as we age, many decide to ignore it. Neglecting hearing loss, however, can have severe negative side effects on a person’s overall health beyond their inability to hear.
Why do many people decide 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 problem that can be easily handled. However, those costs can rise astronomically when you factor in the serious side effects and ailments that are caused 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. Instead, they will connect exhaustion to a number of other factors, like slowing down based on getting older or a side-effect of medication. The fact is that the less you can hear, the more your body works to compensate, leaving you feeling tired. Visualize a task where you need to be totally focused like taking the SAT exam. When you’re done, you likely feel exhausted. When you struggle to hear, the same thing occurs: when having conversations, your brain is trying to fill in the blanks – and when there is a lot of background sound this is even more difficult – and burns valuable energy just trying to process the discussion. This type of persistent fatigue can affect your health by leaving you too run down to keep yourself healthy, 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. Although these links are not direct causations, they are correlations, it’s believed by researchers the more the blanks need to be filled in by the brain, the more the cognitive resources needed and the less there are to focus on other things like memorization and comprehension. And as people age, the increased drain on cognitive resources can accelerate the decline of other brain functions and contribute to gray matter loss. The process of cognitive decline can be delayed and senior citizens can stay mentally tuned by the regular exchange of ideas through conversation. The discovery of a link between hearing loss and a loss of cognitive functions is promising for future research since the causes of these conditions can be identified 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 paranoia, anxiety, and depression negatively impacted the emotional health more often than those who don’t have hearing loss. Since problems communicating with others in social and family situations is normal for those with hearing loss, the link between mental health issues and hearing loss makes sense. 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 consequence, particularly if neglected. Hearing aids have been shown to help in the recovery from depression, however, anyone who has depression, anxiety, or paranoia should talk to with a mental health professional.
All the parts of our bodies are one interconnected machine – an apparently unconnected part can be impacted negatively if another part stops working as it should. This is the situation with our hearts and ears. As an example, when blood doesn’t flow freely from the heart to the inner ear, hearing loss will occur. 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 get scrambled. Those who have noticed some level 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 determine whether the hearing loss is indeed caused by a heart condition, since neglecting the symptoms could lead to severe, possibly fatal repercussions.
If you have loss of hearing or are experiencing any of the negative effects listed above, feel free to contact us so we can help you live a healthier life. Schedule your appointment now.