It’s a regrettable fact of life that loss of hearing is part of getting older. Approximately 38 million people suffer from some kind of hearing loss in the United States, but because hearing loss is expected as we get older, many choose to ignore it. However, beyond a person’s ability to hear, their entire life can be negatively impacted if they neglect their hearing loss.
Why do many people decide to just live with hearing loss? According to an AARP study, more than one-third of seniors think of hearing loss as a minor issue that can be dealt with easily enough, while more than half of the respondents cited cost as a worry. However, those costs can increase astronomically when you take into account the significant side effects and conditions that are triggered by ignoring hearing loss. Here are the most common negative effects of neglecting hearing loss.
Most people will not immediately connect the dots from fatigue to hearing loss. Instead, they will attribute exhaustion to several other factors, like slowing down due to aging or a side-effect of medication. The truth is that the less you are able to hear, the more your body works to compensate, leaving you feeling tired. Imagine you are taking a test like the SAT where your brain is completely focused on processing the task at hand. When you’re done, you most likely feel drained. The same thing happens when you struggle to hear: when having conversations, your brain is trying to fill in the blanks – and if there is a lot of background sound this is even more difficult – and spends valuable energy just trying to process the discussion. Your health can be impacted by this type of persistent exhaustion and you can be left so tired you can’t take good care of yourself, passing up on things like going to the gym or cooking healthy meals.
Several studies by Johns Hopkins University linked hearing loss to , accelerated brain tissue loss, and dementia. While these connections are correlations instead of causations, researchers believe 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 like memorization and comprehension. 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. Additionally, having a frequent exchange of information and ideas, often through conversation, is thought to help senior citizens stay mentally fit and can help delay the process of cognitive decline. The future for researchers is promising due to the discovery of a link between the decrease in cognitive function and hearing loss, since cognitive and hearing experts can team up to determine the causes and develop treatments 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 affected the emotional well being more often than those who don’t have hearing loss. Since trouble communicating with others in family and social situations is common for those with hearing loss, the connection between mental health problems and hearing loss makes sense. This can bring on depression after suffering from prolonged feelings of seclusion. Because of these feelings of exclusion and solitude, anxiety and even paranoia can be the result, especially if neglected. It’s been shown that recovery from depression is assisted by wearing hearing aids. But a mental health professional should still be consulted if you have depression, anxiety, or paranoia.
All the different parts of our bodies are one interconnected machine – an apparently unconnected part can be affected negatively if a different part stops working as it is supposed to. This is the case with our ears and hearts. For instance, hearing loss will happen when blood doesn’t flow freely 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 get mixed up. People who have detected some degree of hearing loss and who have a history of heart disease or diabetes in their families should seek advice from both a cardiac and hearing specialist to find out whether the hearing loss is indeed triggered by a heart condition, since neglecting the symptoms could lead to severe, possibly fatal repercussions.
If you have loss of hearing or are having any of the negative effects outlined above, please contact us so we can help you live a healthier life. Make your appointment for a hearing test.