It’s a regrettable fact of life that loss of hearing is part of the aging process. Approximately 38 million people in the United States suffer from some form of hearing loss, though since hearing loss is expected as we get older, many choose to ignore it. However, beyond a person’s ability to hear, their entire health can be negatively impacted if they ignore their hearing loss.
Why do so many people choose to just live with hearing loss? According to an AARP study, more than one-third of senior citizens consider hearing loss to be a minor problem that can be handled easily enough, while more than half of the respondents cited cost as a worry. However, those costs can increase astronomically when you factor in the significant side effects and conditions that are caused by neglecting 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 fatigue to several different factors, such as slowing down based on getting older 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 drained. Imagine you are taking a test like the SAT where your brain is completely concentrated on processing the task at hand. After you’re done, you probably feel exhausted. The same thing happens when you struggle to hear: your brain is doing work to fill in the blanks you’re missing in conversations – and when there is a lot of background noise this is even more overwhelming – and as you try to process the information, you spend precious energy. Your health can be impacted by this type of chronic fatigue and you can be left so run down you can’t take good care of yourself, skipping out on things like going to the gym or cooking healthy meals.
Johns Hopkins University conducted a study that linked hearing loss to , accelerated brain tissue loss, and dementia. Although these connections are correlations instead of causations, it’s thought by researchers that the more cognitive resources used trying to fill in the blanks of a conversation, the less you’ll have 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 getting older. Also, having a regular exchange of information and ideas, often through conversation, is believed to help seniors stay mentally tuned and can help delay the process of cognitive decline. The discovery of a link between loss of hearing and a loss of cognitive functions is promising for future research since the causes of these ailments can be pinpointed and treatment options 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 paranoia, anxiety, and depression negatively impacted the emotional health more often than those who don’t have hearing loss. Since difficulty communicating with others in family and social situations is typical for those with hearing loss, the link between mental health problems and hearing loss makes sense. This can lead to feelings of seclusion, which can eventually result in depression. Due to these feelings of exclusion and solitude, anxiety and even paranoia can be the result, specifically if left untreated. It’s been demonstrated that recovery from depression is assisted by hearing aids. But a mental health professional should still be contacted if you have depression, anxiety, or paranoia.
All the parts of our bodies are one interconnected machine – an apparently unconnected part can be impacted negatively if another part stops functioning as it is supposed to. 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, loss of hearing will happen. 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 get 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 consult both a hearing expert and a cardiac specialist because neglecting the symptoms can cause severe or even fatal repercussions.
Please reach out to us if you are having any of the negative effects outlined above or if you suffer from loss of hearing so we can help you live a healthier life. Schedule your appointment now.