It’s an unfortunate fact of life that hearing loss is part of the aging process. Approximately 38 million people suffer from some kind of hearing loss in the United States, but many people decide to just ignore it because it’s a normal part of getting older. Neglecting hearing loss, however, can have severe negative side effects on a person’s overall health beyond their inability to hear.
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 consider hearing loss as a small problem that can be easily treated. When you factor in the conditions and significant side effects caused by ignoring hearing loss, however, the costs can increase astronomically. Ignoring hearing loss has the following negative side effects.
Most people will not immediately connect the dots from fatigue to hearing loss. They are commonly in denial and will attribute their fatigue on things such as aging or a side-effect of medication. In actuality, as your brain attempts to make up for sound it can’t hear, you’re left feeling drained. Imagine you are taking a test such as the SAT where your brain is totally focused on processing the task at hand. You will likely feel exhausted once you’re done. The same thing occurs when you struggle to hear: during conversations, your brain is working to fill in the blanks – which is generally made even more difficult when there is a lot of background sound – and spends valuable energy just trying to digest the conversation. This type of persistent exhaustion can affect your health by leaving you too tired to keep yourself healthy, 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 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 you’ll have to dedicate to other things like memorization and comprehension. The decline of brain function is sped up and there is a loss of grey matter with the increased draw on cognitive ability that comes with getting older. The process of cognitive decline can be slowed and senior citizens can stay mentally tuned by the regular exchange of ideas through conversation. The future for researchers is promising due to the discovery of a link between the decline in cognitive function and loss of hearing, since cognitive and hearing specialists can work together to pinpoint the causes and develop treatment options for these ailments.
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. The link between loss of hearing and mental health issues makes sense since people with loss of hearing often have trouble communicating with others in social or family scenarios. This can lead to feelings of isolation, which can eventually result in depression. Due to these feelings of exclusion and isolation, anxiety and even paranoia can be the consequence, particularly if left untreated. It’s been shown that recovery from depression is aided by wearing hearing aids. But a mental health professional should still be consulted if you have depression, anxiety, or paranoia.
All the parts of our bodies are one interconnected machine – an apparently unconnected part can be affected negatively if a different part stops functioning as it is supposed to. This is the case with our ears and hearts. For instance, hearing loss will occur when blood does not flow easily from the heart to the inner ear. Another disease that can affect the inner ear’s nerve ending, and is also connected to heart disease is diabetes which causes messages from the ear to the brain to be mixed up. In order to determine whether hearing loss is caused by heart disease or diabetes, if you have a family history of those illnesses consult both a hearing expert and a cardiac specialist because neglecting the symptoms can cause serious or possibly even fatal consequences.
If you suffer from hearing loss or are experiencing any of the negative effects outlined above, please contact us so we can help you live a healthier life. Schedule your appointment now.