Hearing loss is a normal part of aging, unfortunately. Approximately 38 million people in the United States suffer from some form of hearing loss, though since hearing loss is expected as we get older, many people choose to leave it unchecked. However, beyond a person’s ability to hear, their entire life can be negatively impacted if they ignore their hearing loss.
Why do many people choose to just live with hearing loss? According to an AARP study, More than half of senior citizens cited costs as the major concern while one third regard hearing loss as a small issue that can be easily treated. However, those costs can rise astronomically when you factor in the significant side effects and conditions that are brought on by neglecting hearing loss. 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 connect fatigue to a number of different factors, like slowing down based on aging or a side-effect of medication. The fact is that the less you are able to hear, the more your body works to compensate, leaving you feeling exhausted. 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 drained once you’re done. 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 sound this is even more difficult – and burns precious energy just attempting to digest the conversation. Your overall health can be impacted by this type of chronic fatigue and you can be left so tired you can’t take good care of yourself, skipping out 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. Even though these links are correlations instead of causations, researchers believe the more the blanks need to be filled in by the brain, the more the cognitive resources needed and the less you’ll have to focus on other things like comprehension and memorization. The decline of brain function is accelerated and there is a loss of grey matter with the increased draw on cognitive capacity that comes with growing older. The process of cognitive decline can be slowed and senior citizens can stay mentally fit by the regular exchange of ideas through conversation. The fact that a link was discovered between loss of hearing and a loss of cognitive functions is encouraging for future research since cognitive and hearing specialists 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 impacted the emotional well being more often than those who don’t have hearing loss. Since problems communicating with others in social and family situations is common for those with hearing loss, the connection between mental health issues and hearing loss seems logical. This can lead to feelings of seclusion, which can eventually result in depression. If neglected, anxiety and even paranoia can appear due to these feelings of loneliness and exclusion. It’s been demonstrated that recovery from depression is helped by hearing aids. But a mental health professional should still be contacted if you have depression, anxiety, or paranoia.
Our bodies are one interconnected machine – if one part stops working as it should, it could have a negative effect on another seemingly unrelated part. This is the case with our hearts and ears. For instance, hearing loss will occur when blood does not flow freely from the heart to the inner ear. Another disease that can affect the inner ear’s nerve ending, and is also connected to heart disease is diabetes which causes messages from the ear to the brain to get scrambled. People who have noticed some amount of hearing loss and who have a history of heart disease or diabetes in their families should consult with both a hearing and cardiac specialist to determine whether the hearing loss is indeed caused by a heart condition, since neglecting the symptoms could lead to serious, possibly fatal repercussions.
If you suffer from hearing loss or are having any of the negative effects listed above, feel free to reach out to us so we can help you live a healthier life. Schedule your appointment now.