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 since hearing loss is expected as we get older, many people decide to leave it unchecked. However, beyond a person’s ability to hear, their entire health can be negatively impacted if they neglect their hearing loss.
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 concern while one third regard hearing loss as a small problem that can be easily handled. When you consider the conditions and serious side effects caused by neglecting hearing loss, however, the costs can rise astronomically. Neglecting 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 fatigued. Visualize a task where you need to be completely concentrated like taking the SAT test. Once you’re done, you probably feel depleted. When you struggle to hear, the same thing happens: when having conversations, your brain is trying to fill in the blanks – which is generally made much more difficult when there is a lot of background sound – and as you try to process the information, you spend precious energy. Your overall health can be affected by this type of chronic fatigue and you can be left so run down you keep yourself healthy, leaving things like going to the gym or cooking healthy meals difficult to accomplish.
Several studies by Johns Hopkins University linked hearing loss to , accelerated brain tissue loss, and dementia. Even though these links are correlations instead of causations, researchers think 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 like 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 reduced and seniors can stay mentally fit by the regular exchange of ideas through conversation. The future for researchers is promising 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 determined and treatment options can be formulated when cognitive and hearing experts 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 paranoia, anxiety, and depression negatively impacted the emotional well being more often than those who don’t have hearing loss. Since problems communicating with others in family and social situations is typical for those with hearing loss, the link between mental health issues and hearing loss makes sense. This can cause feelings of seclusion, which can eventually lead to depression. Due to these feelings of exclusion and solitude, anxiety and even paranoia can be the consequence, particularly if neglected. It’s been demonstrated that recovery from depression is aided by hearing aids. But a mental health professional should still be contacted if you suffer from depression, anxiety, or paranoia.
Our bodies are one interconnected machine – if one part stops working the way it’s supposed to, it might have a negative effect on another seemingly unrelated part. This is the situation with our ears and hearts. As an example, when blood doesn’t flow easily from the heart to the inner ear, loss of hearing will occur. Diabetes, which is also connected to 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 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 neglecting the symptoms can result in serious or even fatal repercussions.
If you have hearing loss or are having any of the negative effects listed above, feel free to contact us so we can help you live a healthier life. Make your appointment for a hearing test.