It’s an unfortunate truth that hearing loss is part of the aging process. Roughly 38 million people in the U.S. suffer from some kind of hearing loss, but because hearing loss is expected as we age, many people choose to ignore it. But beyond the ability to hear, ignoring hearing loss will have severe negative side effects.
Why is the decision to simply live with hearing loss one that many people consider? Based on an AARP study, more than one-third of senior citizens consider hearing loss to be a minor issue that can be handled easily enough, while cost was a worry for more than half of people who participated in the study. The consequences of neglecting hearing loss, however, can be a lot higher because of complications and side effects that come with ignoring it. What are the most prevalent challenges of ignoring hearing loss?
The majority of people won’t immediately connect the dots from fatigue to hearing loss. They will say, instead, that they are slowing down because of the side-effects of a medication or because they’re getting older. But actually, if you have to work extra hard to hear, it can deplete your physical resources. Think about taking an exam such as the SAT where your brain is totally concentrated on processing the task at hand. Once you’re done, you probably feel drained. When you are struggling to hear, it’s a similar situation: your brain is working to fill in the blanks you’re missing in conversations – which, when there is too much background noise, is even harder – and consumes precious energy just attempting to manage the conversation. Looking after yourself requires energy which you won’t have with this type of chronic fatigue. To adapt, you will skip life-essential routines like working out or eating healthy.
Decline of Cognitive Function
Countless studies conducted by Johns Hopkins University linked hearing loss to decreased brain functions , increased brain tissue loss, and dementia. Although these connections are not causation, they’re correlations, scientists believe that, again, the more often you need to fill in the conversational blanks, which uses up mental resources, the less you have to focus on other things like comprehension and memorization. And as people age, the increased draw on mental resources can accelerate the decline of other brain functions and worsen gray matter loss. Besides that, it’s believed that the process of mental decline can be lessened and mental wellness can be maintained by sustained exchange of ideas, usually through conversation. Fortunately, cognitive specialist and hearing specialist can use the known connection between mental decline and hearing loss to collaborate to undertake research and establish treatments that are promising in the near future.
Problems With Mental Health
The National Council on the Aging discovered, from a study of more than two thousand seniors, that mental health issues which have a negative social and emotional impact, are more common if there is also neglected hearing loss. The connection between hearing loss and mental health issues seems logical since, in social and family situations, individuals who cope with hearing loss have a difficult time interacting with others. This can lead to feelings of isolation, which can eventually lead to depression. Feelings of exclusion and isolation can worsen to anxiety and even paranoia if neglected. Hearing aids have been shown to aid in the recovery from depression, though anyone suffering from depression, anxiety, or paranoia should consult with a mental health professional.
If one part of your body, which is a coordinated machine, stops functioning properly, it could have an affect on seemingly unrelated bodily functions. This is the way it is with our hearts and ears. Case in point, hearing loss will occur when blood does not flow easily from the heart to the inner ear. Diabetes, which is also connected to heart disease, can affect the inner ear’s nerve endings and cause messages sent to the brain from the ear to become scrambled. Individuals who have noticed some degree of hearing loss and who have a history of diabetes or heart disease in their families should contact both a hearing and cardiac specialist to ascertain whether the hearing loss is actually caused by a heart condition, since ignoring the symptoms might lead to serious, possibly fatal repercussions.
If you want to begin living a healthier life, contact us so we can help you solve any negative effects of hearing loss that you may suffer.