Hearing loss is a normal part of aging, unfortunately. Roughly 38 million people in the United States suffer from some form of hearing loss, but since hearing loss is expected as we get older, many choose to leave it unchecked. However, beyond a person’s ability to hear, their whole life can be negatively affected if they neglect their hearing loss.
Why do so many people refuse to get help for their hearing loss? According to an AARP study, More than half of senior citizens cited costs as the major worry while one third regard hearing loss as a minor problem that can be easily treated. When you factor in the conditions and significant side effects caused by ignoring hearing loss, however, the costs can increase astronomically. 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 exhaustion to several different factors, like slowing down due to aging or a side-effect of medication. The truth is that the less you are able to hear, the more your body works to make up for it, leaving you feeling exhausted. Imagine you are taking an exam such as the SAT where your brain is totally concentrated on processing the task at hand. You will probably feel depleted once you finish. When you struggle to hear, the same thing occurs: your brain is doing work to fill in the blanks you’re missing in conversations – and if there is a lot of background noise this is even more overwhelming – and as you try to process the information, you spend valuable energy. This type of persistent exhaustion can affect your health by leaving you too tired to take care of yourself, skipping out on things like cooking healthy meals or going to the gym.
Johns Hopkins University conducted a study that linked hearing loss to , accelerated brain tissue loss, and dementia. Even though these connections are not direct causations, they are correlations, researchers believe the more the blanks need to be filled in by the brain, the more the cognitive resources needed and the less the resources available for other things like comprehension and memory. The decline of brain function is sped up and there is a loss of grey matter with the increased draw on cognitive ability that comes with aging. Also, having a frequent exchange of information and ideas, often through conversation, is thought to help seniors stay mentally fit and can help delay the process of cognitive decline. The future for researchers is promising due to the discovery of a link between the decrease in cognitive function and loss of hearing, since hearing and cognitive specialists can team up to pinpoint 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 people who ignored their hearing condition had mental health issues like depression, anxiety, and paranoia, which negatively impacted their emotional and social well-being. The link between loss of hearing and mental health problems makes sense since those with loss of hearing often have difficulty 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 isolation, anxiety and even paranoia can be the result, particularly if neglected. It’s been shown that recovery from depression is aided by wearing hearing aids. But a mental health professional should still be contacted if you suffer from depression, anxiety, or paranoia.
Our bodies are one interconnected machine – if one part stops functioning the way it’s supposed to, it could have a negative impact on another apparently unrelated part. 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, hearing loss 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. In order to determine whether loss of hearing is caused by heart disease or diabetes, if you have a family history of those illnesses consult with both a hearing expert and a cardiac specialist because neglecting the symptoms can result in severe or even fatal consequences.
Please contact us if you are having any of the negative effects listed above or if you suffer from hearing loss so we can help you live a healthier life. Make your appointment for a hearing test.