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 because hearing loss is expected as we age, many choose to ignore it. Ignoring hearing loss, however, can have serious negative side effects on a person’s entire health beyond their inability to hear.
Why do so many people resist getting help for their hearing loss? According to an AARP study, more than one-third of senior citizens consider hearing loss to be a minor problem that can be handled easily enough, while more than half of the participants cited cost as a concern. However, those costs can rise astronomically when you factor in the significant side effects and ailments that are caused by ignoring hearing loss. Here are the most prevalent negative effects of ignoring hearing loss.
Most people will not immediately connect the dots from fatigue to hearing loss. They are commonly in denial and will blame their fatigue on things such as getting older or a side-effect of medication. In reality, as your brain attempts to compensate for sound it can’t hear, you’re left feeling drained. Visualize a task where you need to be totally focused like taking the SAT test. You will most likely feel drained once you’re done. When you struggle to hear, the same thing occurs: your brain is working to fill in the blanks you’re missing in conversations – which is often made even harder when there is a lot of background noise – and as you attempt to process the conversation, you deplete valuable energy. This type of persistent fatigue can affect your health by leaving you too run down to take care of yourself, leaving things like cooking healthy meals or going to the gym difficult to accomplish.
Johns Hopkins University conducted a study that linked hearing loss to , accelerated brain tissue loss, and dementia. Although these connections are not direct causations, they are correlations, it’s believed by researchers that the more cognitive resources 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 drain on cognitive resources can accelerate the decline of other brain functions and contribute to gray matter loss. The process of cognitive decline can be slowed down and seniors can stay mentally tuned by the regular exchange of ideas through conversation. The discovery of a link between hearing loss and a decline in cognitive functions is promising for future research since cognitive and hearing experts can team up to identify the causes and develop treatments 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 paranoia, anxiety, and depression negatively impacted the emotional well being more often than those who don’t have hearing loss. The connection between loss of hearing and mental health problems makes sense since those with hearing loss often have difficulty communicating with others in social or family situations. This can result in depression after suffering from persistent feelings of isolation. Due to these feelings of exclusion and solitude, anxiety and even paranoia can be the consequence, especially if neglected. It’s been shown that recovery from depression is helped 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 impacted negatively if another part quits functioning as it should. This is the situation with our ears and hearts. Case in point, hearing loss will happen when blood does not flow easily from the heart to the inner ear. 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. Individuals who have noticed some level of hearing loss and who have a history of heart disease or diabetes in their families should seek advice from both a hearing and cardiac specialist to find out whether the hearing loss is indeed caused by a heart condition, since neglecting the symptoms could lead to severe, possibly fatal repercussions.
Please get in touch with us if you are experiencing any of the negative effects listed above or if you have hearing loss so we can help you live a healthier life. Make your appointment for a hearing test.