It’s an unfortunate fact of life that hearing loss is part of the aging process. Roughly 38 million people in the United States have some form of hearing loss, but many people decide to just ignore it because it’s a normal part of getting older. Neglecting hearing loss, however, can have serious negative side effects on a person’s entire health 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 senior citizens cited costs as the major concern while one third regard hearing loss as a small problem that can be easily handled. When you consider the conditions and serious side effects caused by neglecting hearing loss, however, the costs can rise astronomically. Here are the most prevalent negative effects of ignoring hearing loss.
Most people will not immediately connect the dots from fatigue to hearing loss. They are commonly in denial and will blame their fatigue on things like getting older or a side-effect of medication. In reality, as your brain tries to compensate for sound it doesn’t hear, you’re left feeling depleted. Visualize a task where you have to be completely concentrated like taking the SAT test. You will likely feel exhausted once you finish. The same thing happens when you struggle to hear: during conversations, your brain is trying to fill in the blanks – and when there is a lot of background noise this is even more overwhelming – and uses up precious energy just trying to process the conversation. Your health can be impacted by this type of persistent exhaustion and you can be left so tired you can’t take good care of yourself, skipping out on things like cooking healthy meals or going to the gym.
Several studies by Johns Hopkins University linked hearing loss to , accelerated brain tissue loss, and dementia. Even though these links are not direct causations, they are correlations, it’s believed by researchers 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 memory and comprehension. The decline of brain function is accelerated and there is a loss of grey matter with the additional draw on cognitive ability that comes with aging. The process of cognitive decline can be slowed and senior citizens can stay mentally tuned by the regular exchange of ideas through conversation. The fact that a link was discovered between loss of hearing and a decline in cognitive functions is encouraging for future research since cognitive and hearing specialists can team up to identify the causes and develop treatment options for these conditions.
Mental Health Issues
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 trouble communicating with others in family and social situations is common for those with hearing loss, the link between mental health issues and hearing loss makes sense. This can bring on depression after suffering from prolonged feelings of loneliness. If left untreated, anxiety and even paranoia can appear due to these feelings of isolation and exclusion. Hearing aids have been shown to aid in the recovery from depression, though anyone who has depression, anxiety, or paranoia should talk to with a mental health professional.
Our bodies are one interconnected machine – if one part quits working as it should, it might have a negative effect on another seemingly unrelated part. This is the situation with our hearts and ears. For instance, hearing loss will happen when blood doesn’t flow easily from the heart to the inner ear. Diabetes, which is also connected to heart disease, can affect the inner ear’s nerve endings and cause messages sent from the ear to the brain to become scrambled. In order to find out whether loss of hearing is caused by heart disease or diabetes, if you have a family history of those illnesses consult both a hearing expert and a cardiac specialist because ignoring the symptoms can cause serious or possibly even fatal repercussions.
Please get in touch with us if you are experiencing any of the negative effects listed above or if you have hearing loss so we can help you live a healthier life. Schedule your appointment now.