It’s a regrettable 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 choose to just neglect it because it’s a normal part of aging. Ignoring hearing loss, however, can have severe negative side effects on a person’s overall 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 seniors cited costs as the major worry while one third regard hearing loss as a minor problem that can be easily treated. However, those costs can increase astronomically when you factor in the significant side effects and conditions that are caused by ignoring hearing loss. Ignoring hearing loss has the following negative side effects.
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 getting older or a side-effect of medication. In actuality, as your brain tries to make up for sound it can’t hear, you’re left feeling exhausted. Imagine you are taking an exam like the SAT where your brain is completely focused on processing the task at hand. You will most likely feel exhausted once you’re done. When you struggle to hear, the same thing happens: when having conversations, your brain is working to fill in the blanks – which is often made much harder when there is a lot of background sound – and as you try to process the conversation, you spend valuable energy. This type of persistent exhaustion can impact 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 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 like memorization and comprehension. The decline of brain function is accelerated and there is a loss of grey matter with the increased draw on cognitive ability that comes with aging. In addition, having a regular exchange of ideas and information, often through conversation, is believed to help senior citizens stay mentally fit and can help reduce the process of cognitive decline. The future for researchers is encouraging due to the discovery of a link between the decline in cognitive function and loss of hearing, since the causes of these ailments can be pinpointed and treatments can be developed when cognitive and hearing specialist 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 impacted the emotional health more often than those who don’t have hearing loss. Since trouble communicating with others in family and social situations is normal for those with hearing loss, the connection between mental health issues and hearing loss seems logical. This can lead to depression after suffering from persistent feelings of isolation. If neglected, anxiety and even paranoia can appear due to these feelings of loneliness and exclusion. Hearing aids have been shown to help in the recovery from depression, though anyone who has depression, anxiety, or paranoia should talk to 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 situation with our ears and hearts. Case in point, hearing loss will occur when blood doesn’t flow freely from the heart to the inner ear. Diabetes, which is also associated with heart disease, can affect the inner ear’s nerve endings and cause messages sent from the ear to the brain to become scrambled. People who have detected some level of hearing loss and who have a history of heart disease or diabetes in their families should consult with both a hearing and cardiac specialist to determine whether the hearing loss is indeed caused by a heart condition, since neglecting the symptoms could lead to serious, potentially fatal repercussions.
If you have 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. Schedule your appointment now.