It’s an unfortunate fact of life that hearing loss is part of getting older. Roughly 38 million people in the US suffer from some form of hearing loss, but since hearing loss is expected as we age, many people choose to ignore it. Neglecting hearing loss, however, can have severe negative side effects on a person’s overall well-being beyond their inability to hear.
Why do so many people choose to simply live with 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 minor problem that can be easily handled. However, those costs can increase astronomically when you factor in the significant side effects and ailments that are caused by neglecting hearing loss. Neglecting hearing loss has the following negative side effects.
Most people will not immediately connect the dots from fatigue to hearing loss. Alternatively, they will attribute exhaustion to several different factors, like slowing down due to getting older or a side-effect of medication. The fact is that the less you can hear, the more your body works to compensate, leaving you feeling drained. Imagine you are taking an exam like the SAT where your brain is totally concentrated on processing the task at hand. Once you’re done, you likely feel exhausted. When you struggle to hear, the same thing happens: when having conversations, your brain is working to fill in the blanks – and when there is a lot of background sound this is even more difficult – and as you try to process the conversation, you spend valuable energy. This type of chronic exhaustion can affect your health by leaving you too tired to keep yourself healthy, skipping out 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. Although these links are correlations instead of causations, it’s thought by researchers that the more cognitive resources used attempting to fill in the blanks of a conversation, the less there are to focus on other things like memorization and comprehension. The decline of brain function is sped up and there is a loss of grey matter with the additional draw on cognitive ability that comes with getting older. The process of cognitive decline can be reduced and senior citizens can stay mentally fit by the regular exchange of ideas through conversation. The fact that a link was discovered between hearing loss and a loss of cognitive functions is promising for future research since the causes of these ailments can be determined and treatments can be formulated when hearing and cognitive 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 affected the emotional well being 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 lead to depression after suffering from prolonged feelings of isolation. If neglected, anxiety and even paranoia can appear due to these feelings of isolation and exclusion. It’s been shown that recovery from depression is helped by hearing aids. But a mental health professional should still be consulted if you have depression, anxiety, or paranoia.
Our bodies are one interconnected machine – if one part stops functioning as it should, it might have a negative effect on another apparently unrelated part. This is the situation with our ears and hearts. Case in point, hearing loss will happen when blood doesn’t flow easily 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 loss of hearing 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 severe or even fatal repercussions.
If you suffer from hearing loss or are having any of the negative effects listed above, please contact us so we can help you live a healthier life. Make your appointment for a hearing test.