Loss of hearing is a normal part of aging, unfortunately. 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 choose to ignore it. Neglecting hearing loss, however, can have serious negative side effects on a person’s entire well-being beyond their inability to hear.
Why do so many people resist getting help for their 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 minor issue that can be easily handled. When you consider the conditions and significant side effects caused by neglecting hearing loss, however, the costs can increase dramatically. Here are the most common negative effects of neglecting hearing loss.
Most people will not immediately connect the dots from fatigue to hearing loss. Alternatively, they will connect exhaustion to a number of different factors, such as slowing down due to aging or a side-effect of medication. The fact is that the less you are able to hear, the more your body works to make up for it, leaving you feeling tired. Visualize a task where you need to be totally concentrated like taking the SAT exam. You will probably feel depleted once you finish. When you struggle to hear, the same thing happens: your brain is working to fill in the blanks you’re missing in conversations – which is generally made much harder when there is a lot of background noise – and burns precious energy just trying to process the discussion. This type of chronic exhaustion can affect your health by leaving you too tired to keep yourself healthy, leaving things like going to the gym or cooking healthy meals hard to accomplish.
Several studies by Johns Hopkins University linked hearing loss to , accelerated brain tissue loss, and dementia. Even though these links are correlations instead of causations, researchers think the more the blanks need to be filled in by the brain, the more the cognitive resources needed and the less there are to dedicate to other things such as comprehension and memorization. The decrease of brain function is sped up and there is a loss of grey matter with the increased draw on cognitive ability that comes with growing older. Also, having a frequent exchange of ideas and information, often through conversation, is believed to help senior citizens stay mentally fit and can help slow the process of cognitive decline. The future for researchers is encouraging due to the discovery of a link between the decrease in cognitive function and loss of hearing, since the causes of these conditions can be determined and treatments can be formulated when cognitive and hearing experts team up.
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 those who neglected their hearing condition had mental health troubles like depression, anxiety, and paranoia, which negatively impacted their emotional and social well-being. Since trouble communicating with others in family and social situations is normal for those with hearing loss, the link between mental health issues and hearing loss makes sense. This can cause feelings of isolation, which can eventually result in depression. If neglected, anxiety and even paranoia can surface due to these feelings of isolation and exclusion. Hearing aids have been shown to assist in the recovery from depression, though anyone who has 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 affected negatively if a different part quits working as it is supposed to. This is the situation 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 impact 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 become scrambled. In order to find out whether hearing loss 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 neglecting the symptoms can result in severe or even fatal repercussions.
Please get in touch with us if you are having any of the negative effects detailed above or if you suffer from loss of hearing so we can help you live a healthier life. Make your appointment for a hearing test.