It’s a regrettable fact of life that hearing loss is part of the aging process. Roughly 38 million people in the United States deal with some kind of hearing loss, though since hearing loss is expected as we age, many people decide to just deal with it. But beyond the ability to hear, disregarding hearing loss can have serious adverse side effects.
Why is the choice to simply cope with hearing loss one that lots of people consider? Based on an AARP study, more than one-third of senior citizens think of hearing loss as a minor problem that can be handled fairly easily, while greater than half of the participants cited cost as a concern. But, those costs can go up incredibly when you factor in the significant adverse reactions and conditions that are triggered by neglecting hearing loss. Here are the most common negative effects of neglecting hearing loss.
The dots will not be connected by most people from fatigue to hearing loss. Instead, they will blame their fatigue on several different factors, like slowing down due to aging or a side-effect of medication. But actually, if you have to work harder to hear, it can drain your physical resources. Imagine you are taking a test like the SAT where your brain is entirely focused on processing the task at hand. Once you’re done, you likely feel exhausted. When you’re struggling to hear, it’s an equivalent scenario: when there are blanks spots in conversation, your brain has to work hard to substitute the missing information – which is often made even harder when there’s lots of background noise – and consumes precious energy just trying to process the conversation. This type of chronic exhaustion can affect your health by leaving you too tired to care for yourself, skipping out on things like going to the gym or cooking healthy meals.
Numerous studies conducted by Johns Hopkins University connected hearing loss to decreased cognitive functions , accelerated brain tissue loss, and dementia. While these links are correlations, instead of causations, scientists think that, again, the more cognitive resources that are used trying to fill in the blanks of a conversation, the less you have to give attention to other things including memorization and comprehension. And declining brain function, as we age is, directly connected to an additional draw on our mental resources. Additionally, engaging in a routine exchange of information and ideas, usually through conversation, is believed to help seniors remain mentally fit and can help decrease the process of mental decline. Luckily, cognitive specialist and hearing specialist can use the known connection between mental decline and hearing loss to work together to undertake research and develop treatments that are encouraging in the near future.
Issues With Mental Health
The National Council on the Aging performed a study of 2,300 senior citizens who suffered some form of hearing loss and discovered that those who left their condition untreated were more likely to also be dealing with mental health problems such as depression, anxiety, and paranoia, which negatively impacted their emotional and social happiness. The link between mental health issues and hearing loss adds up since, in family and social situations, people who cope with hearing loss have a difficult time communicating with others. This can lead to feelings of isolation, which can ultimately result in depression. If neglected, anxiety and even paranoia can appear as a result of these feelings of separation and exclusion. Hearing aids have been proven to aid in the recovery from depression, though anybody suffering from depression, anxiety, or paranoia should consult with a mental health professional.
Our bodies are one interconnected machine – if one component stops working as it is supposed to, it could have a negative impact on another apparently unrelated part. This is the case with our hearts and ears. As a case in point, if blood flow from the heart to the inner ear is constrained, hearing loss may be the result. Diabetes, which is also connected to heart disease, can affect the inner ear’s nerve endings and cause information sent to the brain from the ear to become scrambled. If heart disease is neglected severe or even possibly fatal consequences can happen. So if you have noticed some hearing loss and you have a history of heart disease or heart disease in your family you should contact both a cardiac and hearing specialist in order to determine if your hearing loss is connected to a heart condition.
If you deal with hearing loss or are experiencing any of the negative effects listed above, please reach out to us so we can help you have a healthier life.