Loss of hearing is a normal part of getting older, unfortunately. Roughly 38 million people in the US have some form of hearing loss, but many people choose to simply neglect it because it’s a normal part of aging. Neglecting hearing loss, however, can have serious negative side effects on a person’s overall well-being beyond their inability to hear.
Why do so many people refuse to get help for their hearing loss? According to an AARP study, more than one-third of seniors consider hearing loss to be a minor problem that can be handled easily enough, while more than half of the participants cited cost as a concern. When you factor in the conditions and significant side effects caused by neglecting hearing loss, however, the costs can rise astronomically. Here are the most prevalent negative effects of ignoring hearing loss.
Most people will not immediately connect the dots from fatigue to hearing loss. They are commonly in denial and will blame their fatigue on things like getting older or a side-effect of medication. The fact is that the less you can hear, the more your body works to compensate, leaving you feeling drained. Visualize a task where you have to be completely focused like taking the SAT exam. You will likely feel depleted once you’re done. When you struggle to hear, the same thing happens: your brain is working to fill in the blanks you’re missing in conversations – and if there is a lot of background noise this is even more difficult – and as you attempt to process the conversation, you use up valuable energy. Your overall health can be impacted by this type of persistent exhaustion and you can be left so run down you keep yourself healthy, skipping out on things like cooking healthy meals or going to the gym.
Johns Hopkins University conducted a study that linked hearing loss to , accelerated brain tissue loss, and dementia. Although these links are correlations instead of causations, researchers think 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 memory and comprehension. And as people get older, the additional drain on cognitive resources can accelerate the decrease of other brain functions and contribute to gray matter loss. Additionally, having a regular exchange of information and ideas, often through conversation, is thought to help seniors stay mentally fit and can help reduce 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 hearing loss, since the causes of these ailments can be determined and treatment options can be formulated when cognitive and hearing experts work together.
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 well being more often than those who don’t have hearing loss. The link between hearing loss and mental health problems makes sense since people with loss of hearing often have difficulty communicating with others in social or family situations. This can cause feelings of isolation, which can eventually lead to depression. If neglected, anxiety and even paranoia can surface due to these feelings of loneliness and exclusion. It’s been shown that recovery from depression is helped by wearing 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 evidently unconnected part can be affected negatively if another part stops functioning as it is supposed to. This is the case with our hearts and ears. For instance, hearing loss will happen when blood doesn’t flow easily from the heart to the inner ear. Another disease that can affect the inner ear’s nerve ending, and is also linked to heart disease is diabetes which causes messages from the ear to the brain to get scrambled. People who have noticed some amount of hearing loss and who have a history of heart disease or diabetes in their families should consult with both a cardiac and hearing specialist to determine whether the hearing loss is indeed caused by a heart condition, since ignoring the symptoms could lead to severe, possibly fatal repercussions.
If you have loss of hearing or are experiencing any of the negative effects outlined above, feel free to contact us so we can help you live a healthier life. Schedule your appointment now.