It’s a regrettable fact of life that hearing loss is part of the aging process. Roughly 38 million people cope with hearing loss in the United States, though many choose to dismiss it because they look at it as just a part of aging. But beyond how well you hear, ignoring hearing loss will have severe adverse side effects.
Why is the decision to just ignore hearing loss one that lots of people choose? According to an AARP study, hearing loss is, thought to be by a third of seniors, a problem that is minimal and can be handled easily, while cost was a concern for more than half of those who took part in the study. But, those costs can rise incredibly when you factor in the significant adverse reactions and conditions that are triggered by neglecting hearing loss. What are the most prevalent challenges of neglecting hearing loss?
The dots will not be connected by most people from fatigue to hearing loss. They will say, rather, that they are slowing down due to the side-effects of a medication or because they’re getting older. But in reality, if you need to work extra hard to hear, it can drain your physical resources. Think about taking a test like the SAT where your brain is completely concentrated on processing the task in front of you. Once you’re finished, you likely feel exhausted. The same thing occurs when you struggle to hear: your brain is trying to fill in the blanks you’re missing in conversations – which, when there is too much background noise, is even harder – and uses up precious energy just attempting to process the conversation. This type of chronic tiredness can impact your health by leaving you too tired to care for yourself, cutting out things like going to the gym or cooking wholesome meals.
Hearing loss has been connected, by a number of Johns Hopkins University studies, to reduced cognitive functions , increased brain tissue loss, and dementia. While these connections are correlations, instead of causations, it’s theorized by researchers that, once again, the more mental resources that are spent trying to fill in the blanks of a conversation, the less there are to focus on other things like memorization and comprehension. And as people get older, the additional draw on mental resources can accelerate the decline of other brain functions and contribute to gray matter loss. What’s more, having a routine exchange of information and ideas, usually through conversation, is thought to help seniors remain mentally fit and can help slow the process of cognitive decline. The fact that a link between cognitive function and hearing loss was found is promising for future research since hearing and cognitive specialists can work together to pinpoint the causes and develop treatment options for these conditions.
Mental Health Issues
The National Council on the Aging performed a study of 2,300 seniors who were dealing with some form of hearing loss and discovered that individuals who neglected their condition were more likely to also be dealing with mental health issues such as depression, anxiety, and paranoia, which negatively impacted their social and emotional happiness. It makes sense that there is a connection between hearing loss and mental health problems since, in family and social situations, people who cope with hearing loss have a hard time communicating with others. This can lead to feelings of isolation, which can eventually lead to depression. Feelings of exclusion and separation can escalate to anxiety and even paranoia if left untreated. If you suffer from anxiety or depression, you need to consult a mental health professional and you also should know that hearing aids have been proven to help people recover from some types of depression.
If one portion of your body, which is an interconnected machine, stops functioning correctly, it could have an affect on apparently unrelated bodily functions. This is the situation with our hearts and ears. Case in point, hearing loss will occur when blood does not flow easily from the heart to the inner ear. Another affliction connected to heart disease is diabetes which also impacts the nerve endings of the inner ear and sometimes causes the brain to receive scrambled signals. People who have detected some degree 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 overlooking the symptoms might lead to serious, possibly fatal repercussions.
If you want to start living a healthier life, contact us so we can help you address any negative effects of hearing loss that you may suffer.