Hearing loss is a normal part of the aging process, unfortunately. Roughly 38 million people suffer from some kind of hearing loss in the United States, but since hearing loss is expected as we age, many choose to leave it unchecked. Neglecting hearing loss, however, can have serious negative side effects on a person’s overall well-being beyond their inability to hear.
Why do many people decide to just live with hearing loss? According to an AARP study, more than one-third of senior citizens think of hearing loss as a minor problem that can be handled easily enough, while more than half of the participants cited cost as a worry. When you consider the conditions and serious side effects caused by ignoring hearing loss, however, the costs can go up dramatically. Neglecting hearing loss has the following negative side effects.
Most people will not immediately connect the dots from fatigue to hearing loss. Alternatively, they will connect tiredness to several other factors, such as slowing down based on getting older or a side-effect of medication. In truth, as your brain tries to make up for sound it can’t hear, you’re left feeling fatigued. Imagine you are taking a test such as the SAT where your brain is completely focused on processing the task at hand. You will probably feel depleted once you’re done. When you struggle to hear, the same thing occurs: your brain is working to fill in the blanks you’re missing in conversations – which is often made even more difficult when there is a lot of background sound – and burns valuable energy just attempting to digest the discussion. Your overall health can be impacted by this type of chronic exhaustion and you can be left so tired you keep yourself healthy, leaving things like going to the gym or cooking healthy meals hard to accomplish.
Several studies by Johns Hopkins University linked hearing loss to , accelerated brain tissue loss, and dementia. Although these links are correlations instead of causations, researchers believe that the more cognitive resources spent attempting to fill in the blanks of a conversation, the less the resources available for other things such as comprehension and memory. The decrease of brain function is sped up and there is a loss of grey matter with the additional draw on cognitive capacity that comes with aging. In addition, having a regular exchange of information and ideas, often through conversation, is thought to help seniors stay mentally tuned and can help delay the process of cognitive decline. The future for researchers is encouraging due to the discovery of a connection between the decrease in cognitive function and hearing loss, since cognitive and hearing experts can team up to determine the causes and develop 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 paranoia, anxiety, and depression negatively affected the emotional health more often than those who don’t have hearing loss. The link between hearing loss and mental health issues makes sense since people with loss of hearing often have trouble communicating with others in social or family scenarios. This can lead to feelings of seclusion, which can eventually result in depression. Because of these feelings of exclusion and solitude, anxiety and even paranoia can be the result, especially if neglected. Hearing aids have been proven to aid in the recovery from depression, however, anyone suffering from depression, anxiety, or paranoia should talk to with a mental health professional.
Our bodies are one interconnected machine – if one part quits working the way it’s supposed to, it could have a negative impact on another seemingly unrelated part. This is the situation 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 occur. Diabetes, which is also connected to heart disease, can impact the inner ear’s nerve endings and scramble messages from the ear to the brain. Those who have noticed some degree of hearing loss and who have a history of heart disease or diabetes in their families should contact both a cardiac and hearing specialist to determine whether the hearing loss is indeed triggered by a heart condition, since neglecting the symptoms could lead to serious, potentially fatal consequences.
Please contact us if you are experiencing any of the negative effects detailed above or if you suffer from hearing loss so we can help you live a healthier life. Schedule your appointment now.