It’s an unfortunate fact of life that loss of hearing is part of the aging process. Roughly 38 million people in the US suffer from some form of hearing loss, but a lot of people choose to just neglect it because it’s a normal part of getting older. However, beyond a person’s ability to hear, their overall life can be negatively impacted if they neglect their hearing loss.
Why do so many people refuse to get help for their hearing loss? According to an AARP study, More than half of seniors cited costs as the major worry while one third consider hearing loss as a minor problem that can be easily handled. However, those costs can rise astronomically when you factor in the significant side effects and ailments that are triggered by neglecting hearing loss. Ignoring hearing loss has the following negative side effects.
Most people will not immediately connect the dots from fatigue to hearing loss. They are commonly in denial and will attribute their fatigue on things like getting older or a side-effect of medication. In reality, as your brain attempts to compensate for sound it doesn’t hear, you’re left feeling fatigued. Imagine you are taking an exam such as the SAT where your brain is totally concentrated on processing the task at hand. Once you’re finished, you most likely feel exhausted. When you struggle to hear, the same thing occurs: during conversations, your brain is working to fill in the blanks – and when there is a lot of background sound this is even more overwhelming – and spends precious energy just trying to digest the conversation. This type of persistent fatigue can impact your health by leaving you too run down to keep yourself healthy, leaving things like cooking healthy meals or going to the gym difficult to accomplish.
Several studies by Johns Hopkins University linked hearing loss to , accelerated brain tissue loss, and dementia. Even though these connections are not direct causations, they are correlations, researchers believe that the more cognitive resources expended trying to fill in the blanks of a conversation, the less the resources available for other things such as comprehension and memory. The decline of brain function is sped up and there is a loss of grey matter with the additional draw on cognitive capacity that comes with getting older. The process of cognitive decline can be delayed and senior citizens can stay mentally tuned by the regular exchange of ideas through conversation. The future for researchers is encouraging due to the discovery of a connection between the decline in cognitive function and hearing loss, since hearing and cognitive experts can team up to identify the causes and formulate treatment options for these conditions.
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 people who neglected their hearing condition had mental health issues like depression, anxiety, and paranoia, which negatively impacted their emotional and social well-being. The connection 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 bring on depression after suffering from persistent feelings of isolation. Due to these feelings of exclusion and solitude, anxiety and even paranoia can be the result, specifically if neglected. Hearing aids have been proven to help in the recovery from depression, however, anyone who has depression, anxiety, or paranoia should consult with a mental health professional.
Our bodies are one interconnected machine – if one part stops working the way it’s supposed to, it might have a negative effect on another apparently unrelated part. This is the case with our hearts and ears. As an example, when blood doesn’t flow freely from the heart to the inner ear, hearing loss will occur. Diabetes, which is also connected to heart disease, can affect the inner ear’s nerve endings and scramble messages from the ear to the brain. In order to find out whether hearing loss is caused by heart disease or diabetes, if you have a family history of those illnesses consult both a hearing expert and a cardiac specialist because ignoring the symptoms can lead to severe or even fatal repercussions.
Please reach out to us if you are having any of the negative effects listed 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.