It’s an unfortunate fact of life that loss of hearing is part of the aging process. Approximately 38 million people in the United States have some form of hearing loss, though since hearing loss is expected as we get older, many choose to ignore it. Neglecting hearing loss, however, can have severe negative side effects on a person’s overall well-being beyond their inability to hear.
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 concern while one third consider hearing loss as a small problem that can be easily treated. However, those costs can increase astronomically when you take into account the serious side effects and ailments that are caused by neglecting hearing loss. Here are the most prevalent negative effects of neglecting hearing loss.
Most people will not immediately connect the dots from fatigue to hearing loss. Instead, they will attribute exhaustion to a number of other factors, such as slowing down based on aging or a side-effect of medication. In actuality, as your brain tries to compensate for sound it doesn’t hear, you’re left feeling depleted. Imagine you are taking a test such as the SAT where your brain is completely concentrated on processing the task at hand. Once you’re finished, you probably feel depleted. The same thing occurs when you struggle to hear: your brain is doing work to fill in the blanks you’re missing in conversations – which is generally made even more difficult when there is a lot of background sound – and spends valuable energy just trying to process the conversation. Your health can be affected by this type of chronic exhaustion and you can be left so run down you can’t take good care of yourself, passing up on things like going to the gym or cooking healthy meals.
Several studies by Johns Hopkins University linked hearing loss to , accelerated brain tissue loss, and dementia. While these connections are correlations instead of causations, researchers believe that the more cognitive resources expended trying to fill in the blanks of a conversation, the less there are to focus on other things such as comprehension and memorization. And as people age, the greater drain on cognitive resources can speed up the decrease of other brain functions and contribute to gray matter loss. The process of cognitive decline can be slowed 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 decrease in cognitive function and loss of hearing, since hearing and cognitive specialists can work together to determine the causes and formulate treatments 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 problems makes sense since those with hearing loss commonly have trouble communicating with others in social or family situations. This can result in depression after suffering from persistent feelings of seclusion. Due to these feelings of exclusion and solitude, anxiety and even paranoia can be the consequence, especially if neglected. Hearing aids have been proven to assist 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 functioning the way it’s supposed to, it might have a negative impact on another apparently unrelated part. This is the situation with our hearts and ears. Case in point, hearing loss will occur when blood doesn’t flow easily from the heart to the inner ear. Diabetes, which is also associated with heart disease, can impact the inner ear’s nerve endings and scramble messages from the ear to the brain. Individuals who have detected some amount of hearing loss and who have a history of heart disease or diabetes in their families should seek advice from both a cardiac and hearing specialist to find out whether the hearing loss is indeed triggered by a heart condition, since ignoring the symptoms could lead to severe, possibly fatal repercussions.
If you suffer from loss of hearing or are having any of the negative effects listed above, feel free to contact us so we can help you live a healthier life. Schedule your appointment now.