It’s an unfortunate fact of life that loss of hearing is part of the aging process. Roughly 38 million people in the United States have some form of hearing loss, but because hearing loss is expected as we age, many decide to leave it unchecked. However, beyond a person’s ability to hear, their overall health can be negatively affected if they neglect their hearing loss.
Why do so many people resist getting help for their hearing loss? According to an AARP study, More than half of seniors cited costs as the major concern while one third consider hearing loss as a small issue that can be easily treated. However, those costs can rise astronomically when you take into account the significant side effects and conditions that are triggered by ignoring hearing loss. Here are the most prevalent 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 attribute their fatigue on things like aging or a side-effect of medication. In actuality, as your brain attempts to compensate for sound it can’t hear, you’re left feeling depleted. Visualize a task where you need to be completely focused like taking the SAT exam. After you’re finished, you likely feel drained. The same thing occurs when you struggle to hear: your brain is doing work to fill in the blanks you’re missing in conversations – and when there is a lot of background noise this is even more overwhelming – and as you try to process the conversation, you spend valuable energy. Your overall health can be affected by this type of chronic exhaustion and you can be left so tired you keep yourself healthy, leaving things like going to the gym or cooking healthy meals hard to accomplish.
Johns Hopkins University conducted a study that linked hearing loss to , accelerated brain tissue loss, and dementia. Even though these links are correlations instead of causations, researchers think the more the blanks need to be filled in by the brain, the more the cognitive resources needed and the less there are to dedicate to other things like comprehension and memorization. And as people get older, the increased draw on cognitive resources can accelerate the decline of other brain functions and contribute to gray matter loss. The process of cognitive decline can be slowed and senior citizens can stay mentally tuned by the regular exchange of ideas through conversation. The discovery of a link between loss of hearing and a loss of cognitive functions is encouraging for future research since the causes of these ailments can be determined and treatment options can be developed when cognitive and hearing experts work together.
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 those who neglected their hearing problem had mental health issues such as depression, anxiety, and paranoia, which negatively impacted their emotional and social well-being. The connection between hearing loss and mental health issues makes sense since people with loss of hearing commonly have trouble communicating with others in family or social situations. This can result in depression after suffering from prolonged feelings of seclusion. Due to these feelings of exclusion and solitude, anxiety and even paranoia can be the result, especially if neglected. Hearing aids have been proven to assist in the recovery from depression, though anyone who has depression, anxiety, or paranoia should consult with a mental health professional.
All the parts of our bodies are one interconnected machine – an evidently unconnected part can be affected negatively if a different part quits functioning as it should. This is the situation with our ears and hearts. As an example, when blood doesn’t flow easily 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 linked to heart disease is diabetes which causes messages from the ear to the brain to get mixed up. In order to determine 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 neglecting the symptoms can cause serious or even fatal repercussions.
If you suffer from hearing loss or are having any of the negative effects outlined above, feel free to contact us so we can help you live a healthier life. Make your appointment for a hearing test.