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 many people decide to simply neglect it because it’s a normal part of getting older. However, beyond a person’s ability to hear, their whole health can be negatively impacted 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 regard hearing loss as a small problem that can be easily handled. However, those costs can rise astronomically when you take into account the serious side effects and conditions that are caused 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 often in denial and will blame their fatigue on things such as getting older or a side-effect of medication. In reality, as your brain tries to make up for sound it doesn’t hear, you’re left feeling exhausted. Visualize a task where you have to be totally concentrated like taking the SAT exam. You will most likely feel drained once you finish. The same thing occurs when you struggle to hear: when having conversations, your brain is trying to fill in the blanks – which is often made even more difficult when there is a lot of background sound – and uses up valuable energy just attempting to digest the conversation. Your overall health can be affected by this type of chronic exhaustion and you can be left so tired you can’t take good care of yourself, passing up on things like cooking healthy meals or going to the gym.
Johns Hopkins University conducted a study that linked hearing loss to , accelerated brain tissue loss, and dementia. While these links are not direct causations, they are correlations, researchers believe the more the blanks need to be filled in by the brain, the more the cognitive resources needed and the less there are to focus on other things such as comprehension and memorization. And as people get older, the greater drain on cognitive resources can speed up the decrease of other brain functions and contribute to gray matter loss. The process of cognitive decline can be reduced and senior citizens can stay mentally fit by the regular exchange of ideas through conversation. The future for researchers is promising due to the discovery of a connection between the decrease in cognitive function and loss of hearing, since hearing and cognitive experts can work together to pinpoint 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 affected the emotional health more often than those who don’t have hearing loss. The link between hearing loss and mental health problems makes sense since people with hearing loss commonly have difficulty communicating with others in family or social situations. This can cause feelings of seclusion, which can eventually result in depression. If left untreated, anxiety and even paranoia can appear due to these feelings of isolation and exclusion. Hearing aids have been shown to help in the recovery from depression, though 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 as it should, it might have a negative effect on another apparently unrelated part. This is the situation with our hearts and ears. For instance, hearing loss will take place when blood does not flow freely from the heart to the inner ear. Another disease that can impact the inner ear’s nerve ending, and is also associated with heart disease is diabetes which causes messages from the ear to the brain to be 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 contact both a hearing expert and a cardiac specialist because neglecting the symptoms can lead to serious or possibly even fatal consequences.
Please reach out to us if you are experiencing any of the negative effects detailed above or if you have loss of hearing so we can help you live a healthier life. Schedule your appointment now.