Man with cardiac condition also suffering from hearing loss.

It’s an unfortunate truth that hearing loss is part of the aging process. Approximately 38 million individuals suffer from hearing loss in the U . S ., though many people decide to disregard it because they consider it as just a part of getting older. But beyond how well you hear, ignoring hearing loss can have severe adverse side effects.

Why is the choice to just ignore hearing loss one that lots of people consider? According to an AARP study, more than one-third of senior citizens consider hearing loss to be a minor issue that can be managed fairly easily, while more than half of the respondents cited cost as a problem. The costs of neglecting hearing loss, however, can become a great deal higher due to complications and side effects that come with ignoring it. Here are the most common negative effects of ignoring hearing loss.

Fatigue

The dots will not be connected by most people from fatigue to hearing loss. They will say, rather, that they are slowing down due to the side-effects of a medication or because they’re getting older. But in reality, if you have to work extra hard to hear, it can drain your physical resources. Think about taking an exam such as the SAT where your brain is completely focused on processing the task in front of you. You would most likely feel really depleted after you’re finished. When you’re struggling to hear, it’s an equivalent scenario: when there are blanks spots in conversation, your brain needs to work hard to fill in the missing information – which, when there is too much background noise, is even more difficult – and simply attempting to process information consumes valuable energy. This type of chronic exhaustion can affect your health by leaving you too tired to care for yourself, cutting out things like working out or cooking healthy meals.

Decline of Brain Function

Hearing loss has been connected, by several Johns Hopkins University studies, to diminishe cognitive functions , accelerated brain tissue loss, and dementia. While these connections are correlations, instead of causations, researchers believe that, again, the more frequently you need to fill in the conversational blanks, which consumes mental resources, the less there are to give attention to other things like memorization and comprehension. And as people age, the additional draw on cognitive resources can accelerate the decline of other brain functions and worsen loss of gray matter. Additionally, having a regular exchange of information and ideas, usually through conversation, is thought to help seniors stay mentally fit and can help slow the process of cognitive decline. The fact that a link was discovered between hearing loss and a decline in cognitive functions is encouraging for future research since hearing and cognitive specialists can collaborate to pinpoint the factors and create treatments for these conditions.

Mental Health Problems

The National Council on the Aging found, from a study of over two thousand seniors, that mental health issues which have a negative emotional and social affect, are more common if there is also untreated hearing loss. The connection between hearing loss and mental health issues seems logical since people who suffer from hearing loss often have a hard time communicating with other people in family or social situations. Eventually, feelings of isolation could develop into depression. Feelings of exclusion and isolation can worsen to anxiety and even paranoia if left untreated. Hearing aids have been proven to help in the recovery from depression, although anyone suffering from depression, anxiety, or paranoia should talk to a mental health professional.

Heart Disease

If one part of your body, which is an interconnected machine, stops working correctly, it could have an impact on seemingly unrelated bodily functions. This is the way it is with our hearts and ears. As a case in point, if blood flow from the heart to the inner ear is constrained, hearing loss may happen. Another condition linked to heart disease is diabetes which also impacts the nerve endings of the inner ear and sometimes causes the brain to receive scrambled information. Individuals who have detected some amount of hearing loss and who have a history of diabetes or heart disease in their families should consult with both a hearing and cardiac specialist to figure out whether the hearing loss is actually caused by a heart condition, since ignoring the symptoms might lead to serious, possibly fatal consequences.

If you suffer from hearing loss or are experiencing any of the adverse effects listed above, please contact us for a consultation so we can help you have a healthier life.

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