Hearing loss is a normal part of getting older, unfortunately. Roughly 38 million people in the United States suffer from some form of hearing loss, though because hearing loss is expected as we age, many people choose to ignore it. However, beyond a person’s ability to hear, their overall life can be negatively impacted 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 senior citizens cited costs as the major concern while one third consider hearing loss as a minor problem that can be easily treated. When you factor in the conditions and serious side effects caused by ignoring hearing loss, however, the costs can increase dramatically. 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 fatigue to a number of other factors, like slowing down based on getting older or a side-effect of medication. In reality, as your brain attempts to make up for sound it can’t hear, you’re left feeling depleted. Imagine you are taking a test such as the SAT where your brain is totally focused on processing the task at hand. You will likely feel drained once you’re done. The same thing happens when you struggle to hear: when having conversations, your brain is trying to fill in the blanks – which is often made much more difficult when there is a lot of background noise – and spends valuable energy just attempting to digest the conversation. This type of chronic fatigue can affect your health by leaving you too run down 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. While these links are not direct causations, they are correlations, researchers think that the more cognitive resources used trying to fill in the blanks of a conversation, the less the resources available for other things such as comprehension and memory. And as people age, the increased drain on cognitive resources can accelerate the decline of other brain functions and contribute to gray matter loss. Additionally, having a regular exchange of information and ideas, often through conversation, is thought to help senior citizens stay mentally tuned and can help slow the process of cognitive decay. The future for researchers is promising due to the discovery of a connection between the decline in cognitive function and hearing loss, since hearing and cognitive experts can team up to pinpoint the causes and develop treatment options for these ailments.
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 people who ignored their hearing condition had mental health issues such as depression, anxiety, and paranoia, which negatively impacted their emotional and social well-being. The connection between loss of hearing and mental health issues makes sense since people with hearing loss often have difficulty communicating with others in social or family situations. This can lead to feelings of isolation, which can eventually lead to depression. Because of these feelings of exclusion and isolation, anxiety and even paranoia can be the result, specifically if neglected. It’s been demonstrated that recovery from depression is assisted by wearing hearing aids. But a mental health professional should still be contacted if you have paranoia, depression, or anxiety.
All the parts of our bodies are one interconnected machine – an evidently unconnected part can be affected negatively if a different part quits working as it is supposed to. This is the case with our ears and hearts. As an example, when blood doesn’t flow easily from the heart to the inner ear, hearing loss will occur. Diabetes, which is also associated with heart disease, can affect the inner ear’s nerve endings and scramble messages from the ear to the brain. In order to find out whether hearing loss 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 lead to serious or possibly even fatal consequences.
If you have loss of hearing or are experiencing any of the negative effects listed above, feel free to contact us so we can help you live a healthier life. Schedule your appointment now.