It’s an unfortunate fact of life that loss of hearing is part of the aging process. Approximately 38 million people suffer from some kind of hearing loss in the United States, though since hearing loss is expected as we age, many decide to leave it unchecked. Neglecting hearing loss, however, can have serious negative side effects on a person’s entire 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 senior citizens cited costs as the major concern 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 significant side effects and ailments that are brought on by ignoring hearing loss. Neglecting hearing loss has the following negative side effects.
Most people will not immediately connect the dots from fatigue to hearing loss. Alternatively, they will attribute exhaustion to a number of other factors, like slowing down based on aging or a side-effect of medication. The truth is that the less you can hear, the more your body works to compensate, leaving you feeling drained. Visualize a task where you need to be completely concentrated like taking the SAT exam. When you’re done, you most likely feel exhausted. The same thing occurs when you struggle to hear: during conversations, your brain is trying to fill in the blanks – which is generally made much more difficult when there is a lot of background noise – and as you attempt to process the conversation, you spend valuable energy. This type of persistent fatigue can affect your health by leaving you too run down to keep yourself healthy, passing up on things like going to the gym or cooking healthy meals.
Johns Hopkins University conducted a study that linked hearing loss to , accelerated brain tissue loss, and dementia. While these connections are not direct causations, they are correlations, it’s thought by researchers the more the blanks need to be filled in by the brain, the more the cognitive resources needed and the less the resources available for other things like comprehension and memory. And as people get older, the additional draw on cognitive resources can accelerate 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 fit and can help delay the process of cognitive decay. 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 pinpointed and treatments can be formulated 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 connection between loss of hearing and mental health issues makes sense since those with hearing loss commonly have trouble communicating with others in family or social situations. This can bring on depression after suffering from persistent feelings of isolation. If neglected, anxiety and even paranoia can appear due to these feelings of seclusion and exclusion. Hearing aids have been shown to assist in the recovery from depression, though anyone suffering from depression, anxiety, or paranoia should consult with a mental health professional.
All the parts of our bodies are one interconnected machine – an evidently unconnected part can be impacted negatively if a different part stops working 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, hearing loss will occur. 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. 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 hearing and cardiac 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 hearing loss or are experiencing any of the negative effects outlined above, feel free to reach out to us so we can help you live a healthier life. Make your appointment for a hearing test.