Loss of hearing is a normal part of getting older, unfortunately. Approximately 38 million people in the US suffer from some form of hearing loss, but a lot of people choose to simply ignore it because it’s a normal part of aging. However, beyond a person’s ability to hear, their overall health can be negatively impacted if they neglect their hearing loss.
Why do many people decide to simply live with hearing loss? According to an AARP study, more than one-third of senior citizens consider hearing loss to be a minor problem that can be dealt with easily enough, while more than half of the respondents cited cost as a concern. However, those costs can rise astronomically when you take into account the significant side effects and conditions that are brought on 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. They are often in denial and will attribute their fatigue on things like 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 exhausted. Visualize a task where you have to be totally focused like taking the SAT exam. When you’re done, you most likely feel exhausted. When you struggle to hear, the same thing happens: when having conversations, your brain is working to fill in the blanks – which is generally made even harder when there is a lot of background noise – and uses up valuable energy just attempting to process the conversation. This type of persistent exhaustion can affect your health by leaving you too tired to take care of yourself, skipping out 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 links are correlations instead of causations, it’s believed by researchers that the more cognitive resources expended attempting to fill in the blanks of a conversation, the less the resources available for other things such as comprehension and memory. And as people get older, the increased draw on cognitive resources can accelerate the decrease of other brain functions and contribute to gray matter loss. The process of cognitive decline can be slowed and senior citizens can stay mentally fit by the regular exchange of ideas through conversation. The discovery of a link between loss of hearing and a loss of cognitive functions is encouraging for future research since hearing and cognitive experts can work together to pinpoint the causes and formulate treatments for these ailments.
Mental Health Issues
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 health more often than those who don’t have hearing loss. The link between hearing loss and mental health issues makes sense since people with hearing loss commonly have difficulty communicating with others in family or social situations. This can cause feelings of isolation, which can eventually lead to depression. If neglected, anxiety and even paranoia can appear due to these feelings of loneliness and exclusion. It’s been shown that recovery from depression is helped by hearing aids. But a mental health professional should still be contacted if you suffer from paranoia, depression, or anxiety.
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 situation with our hearts and ears. As an example, when blood doesn’t flow easily from the heart to the inner ear, hearing loss will happen. Diabetes, which is also connected to heart disease, can affect the inner ear’s nerve endings and cause messages sent from the ear to the brain to become scrambled. In order to ascertain whether loss of hearing is caused by heart disease or diabetes, if you have a family history of those illnesses contact both a hearing expert and a cardiac specialist because ignoring the symptoms can lead to severe or possibly even fatal repercussions.
Please reach out to us if you are having any of the negative effects listed above or if you have hearing loss so we can help you live a healthier life. Make your appointment for a hearing test.