It’s an unfortunate fact of life that loss of hearing is part of the aging process. Roughly 38 million people in the US have some form of hearing loss, but since hearing loss is expected as we age, many people choose to ignore it. Ignoring hearing loss, however, can have severe negative side effects on a person’s entire health beyond their inability to hear.
Why do many people choose to simply live with 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 small issue that can be easily treated. When you consider the conditions and serious side effects caused by ignoring hearing loss, however, the costs can go up 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. They are commonly in denial and will blame their fatigue on things like aging or a side-effect of medication. In reality, as your brain tries to compensate for sound it doesn’t hear, you’re left feeling fatigued. Imagine you are taking a test such as the SAT where your brain is totally focused on processing the task at hand. After you’re finished, you probably feel drained. The same thing happens when you struggle to hear: your brain is working to fill in the blanks you’re missing in conversations – which is often made even more difficult when there is a lot of background sound – and uses up precious energy just attempting to digest the discussion. This type of persistent fatigue can affect your health by leaving you too run down to keep yourself healthy, 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. Although these connections are correlations instead of causations, it’s thought by researchers 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 additional draw on cognitive capacity that comes with growing older. The process of cognitive decline can be delayed 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 decline in cognitive functions is encouraging for future research since hearing and cognitive specialists can work together to determine the causes and formulate 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 affected 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 connection between mental health issues and hearing loss makes sense. This can lead to feelings of isolation, which can eventually lead to depression. If left untreated, anxiety and even paranoia can appear due to these feelings of isolation and exclusion. It’s been shown that recovery from depression is aided by hearing aids. But a mental health professional should still be consulted if you have paranoia, depression, or anxiety.
All the parts of our bodies are one interconnected machine – an evidently unconnected part can be affected negatively if another part stops working as it is supposed to. 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 happen. Another disease that can impact 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 be mixed up. In order to ascertain whether hearing loss 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 ignoring the symptoms can result in serious or possibly even fatal consequences.
Please contact us if you are having any of the negative effects detailed above or if you suffer from hearing loss so we can help you live a healthier life. Make your appointment for a hearing test.