It’s an unfortunate fact of life that loss of hearing is part of the aging process. Approximately 38 million people suffer from some kind of hearing loss in the United States, but a lot of people decide to simply neglect it because it’s a normal part of getting older. Ignoring hearing loss, however, can have severe negative side effects on a person’s overall health beyond their inability to hear.
Why do so many people choose to just live with hearing loss? According to an AARP study, more than one-third of seniors consider hearing loss to be a minor problem that can be dealt with easily enough, while more than half of the respondents cited cost as a worry. When you consider the conditions and significant side effects caused by neglecting hearing loss, however, the costs can increase astronomically. Neglecting hearing loss has the following negative side effects.
Most people will not immediately connect the dots from fatigue to hearing loss. They are often in denial and will blame their fatigue on things such as getting older or a side-effect of medication. The fact is that the less you can hear, the more your body works to make up for it, leaving you feeling tired. Imagine you are taking an exam such as the SAT where your brain is totally focused on processing the task at hand. You will likely feel drained once you finish. The same thing occurs when you struggle to hear: during conversations, your brain is trying to fill in the blanks – which is generally made even more difficult when there is a lot of background noise – and burns valuable energy just trying to process the discussion. Your overall health can be impacted by this type of persistent fatigue and you can be left so tired you can’t take good care of yourself, leaving things like cooking healthy meals or going to the gym hard to accomplish.
Johns Hopkins University conducted a study that linked hearing loss to , accelerated brain tissue loss, and dementia. Even though these connections are correlations instead of causations, it’s believed by researchers 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 memorization and comprehension. And as people age, the increased draw on cognitive resources can speed up the decline of other brain functions and contribute to gray matter loss. In addition, having a regular exchange of information and ideas, often through conversation, is thought to help senior citizens stay mentally fit and can help slow the process of cognitive decay. The fact that a link was discovered between hearing loss and a loss of cognitive functions is encouraging for future research since the causes of these conditions can be pinpointed and treatments can be developed when cognitive and hearing experts team up.
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 health more often than those who don’t have hearing loss. The connection between hearing loss and mental health issues makes sense since those with hearing loss often have difficulty communicating with others in social or family scenarios. This can lead to feelings of isolation, which can eventually lead to depression. If neglected, anxiety and even paranoia can appear due to these feelings of seclusion and exclusion. It’s been shown that recovery from depression is aided by hearing aids. But a mental health professional should still be contacted if you have depression, anxiety, or paranoia.
All the different parts of our bodies are one interconnected machine – an apparently unconnected part can be affected negatively if a different part stops functioning as it should. This is the situation with our ears and hearts. For instance, hearing loss will happen when blood doesn’t flow freely from the heart to the inner ear. Another disease that can affect the inner ear’s nerve ending, and is also linked to heart disease is diabetes which causes messages from the ear to the brain to become scrambled. Individuals who have noticed some degree 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 triggered by a heart condition, since neglecting the symptoms could lead to severe, possibly fatal repercussions.
Please get in touch with us if you are experiencing any of the negative effects outlined above or if you suffer from hearing loss so we can help you live a healthier life. Make your appointment for a hearing test.