Loss of hearing is a normal part of the aging process, unfortunately. Approximately 38 million people suffer from some kind of hearing loss in the United States, but many people decide to just ignore it because it’s a normal part of getting older. However, beyond a person’s ability to hear, their whole health can be negatively affected if they ignore their hearing loss.
Why do so many people decide to just live with hearing loss? According to an AARP study, More than half of seniors cited costs as the major concern while one third regard hearing loss as a small issue that can be easily handled. 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. Instead, they will connect tiredness to several different factors, such as slowing down based on getting older or a side-effect of medication. The reality is that the less you are able to hear, the more your body works to compensate, leaving you feeling tired. Imagine you are taking a test like the SAT where your brain is completely focused on processing the task at hand. You will most likely feel exhausted once you finish. When you struggle to hear, the same thing happens: during conversations, your brain is working to fill in the blanks – and when there is a lot of background noise this is even more overwhelming – and burns precious energy just attempting to digest the conversation. This type of persistent exhaustion can impact your health by leaving you too run down to keep yourself healthy, leaving things like cooking healthy meals or going to the gym difficult to accomplish.
Several studies by Johns Hopkins University linked hearing loss to , accelerated brain tissue loss, and dementia. While these links are not direct causations, they are correlations, 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 there are to dedicate to other things such as memorization 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 down 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 loss of cognitive functions is promising for future research since the causes of these ailments can be identified and treatments can be formulated when hearing and cognitive specialist team up.
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 those who ignored their hearing condition had mental health issues like depression, anxiety, and paranoia, which negatively impacted their social and emotional well-being. The connection between loss of hearing and mental health issues makes sense since those with loss of hearing often have difficulty communicating with others in family or social situations. This can bring on depression after suffering from prolonged feelings of isolation. Due to these feelings of exclusion and solitude, anxiety and even paranoia can be the result, particularly if neglected. Hearing aids have been proven to assist in the recovery from depression, however, anyone suffering from depression, anxiety, or paranoia should consult with a mental health professional.
Our bodies are one interconnected machine – if one part quits functioning the way it’s supposed to, it could have a negative impact on another apparently unrelated part. This is the case with our ears and hearts. Case in point, hearing loss will occur when blood does not flow freely from the heart to the inner ear. Diabetes, which is also linked 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 determine 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 result in severe or even fatal consequences.
Please get in touch with us if you are having any of the negative effects listed above or if you suffer from hearing loss so we can help you live a healthier life. Schedule your appointment now.