It’s an unfortunate truth that hearing loss is part of the aging process. Roughly 38 million individuals in the U.S. suffer from some form of hearing loss, but since hearing loss is expected as we get older, many people choose to leave it unchecked. But beyond the ability to hear, disregarding hearing loss can have serious adverse side effects.
Why is the choice to just ignore hearing loss one that lots of people choose? Based on an AARP study, hearing loss is, according to a third of seniors, an issue that is minor and can be handled easily, while cost was a worry for more than half of those who participated in the study. The consequences of ignoring hearing loss, though, can become a great deal higher as a result of conditions and adverse reactions that come with leaving it untreated. Here are the most common adverse effects of ignoring hearing loss.
Most people won’t immediately put two and two together from fatigue to hearing loss. Instead, they will blame their fatigue on countless different ideas, like slowing down due to aging or a side-effect of medication. But in reality, if you need to work extra hard to hear, it can drain your physical resources. Think about taking a test like the SAT where your brain is entirely concentrated on processing the task at hand. Once you’re finished, you probably feel exhausted. When you are struggling to hear, it’s a similar scenario: when there are missing spots in conversation, your brain needs to work hard to fill in the missing information – which is usually made even more difficult when there is lots of background noise – and consumes precious energy just attempting to manage the conversation. This type of chronic exhaustion can affect your health by leaving you too tired to care for yourself, skipping out on things like going to the gym or cooking wholesome meals.
Hearing loss has been linked, by a number of Johns Hopkins University studies, to reduced cognitive functions , accelerated brain tissue loss, and dementia. Even though these associations are not causation, they’re correlations, scientists believe that, once again, the more frequently you need to fill in the conversational blanks, which consumes mental resources, the less you have to give attention to other things like memorization and comprehension. And decreasing brain function, as we age is, directly connected to an increased draw on our mental resources. On top of that, it’s believed that the process of mental decline can be lessened and mental fitness can be preserved by a continued exchange of ideas, normally through conversation. Luckily, cognitive specialist and hearing specialist can use the known connection between mental decline and hearing loss to work together to undertake research and establish treatments that are promising in the near future.
Mental Health Issues
The National Council on the Aging conducted a study of 2,300 seniors who suffered some form of hearing loss and found that those who left their condition untreated were more likely to also suffer from mental health problems like depression, anxiety, and paranoia, which negatively impacted their social and emotional happiness. The link between hearing loss and mental health issues adds up since, in family and social situations, individuals who cope with hearing loss have a hard time interacting with others. Eventually, feelings of separation could develop into depression. Feelings of exclusion and separation can escalate to anxiety and even paranoia if neglected. Hearing aids have been proven to aid in the recovery from depression, although anybody suffering from depression, anxiety, or paranoia should contact a mental health professional.
If one portion of your body, which is a coordinated machine, stops functioning properly, it might have an impact on seemingly unrelated bodily functions. This is the situation with our hearts and ears. Case in point, hearing loss will happen when blood doesn’t 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 get scrambled. If heart disease is disregarded serious or even possibly fatal repercussions can occur. So if you’ve noticed some hearing loss and have a history of heart disease or heart disease in your family you should consult both a hearing and a cardiac specialist so that you can determine whether your hearing loss is linked to a heart condition.
If you want to begin living a healthier life, contact us so we can help you address any negative effects of hearing loss that you might suffer.