It’s an unfortunate fact of life that loss of hearing is part of the aging process. Approximately 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 decide to leave it unchecked. However, beyond a person’s ability to hear, their entire health can be negatively affected if they ignore their hearing loss.
Why do so many people refuse to get help for their hearing loss? According to an AARP study, more than one-third of seniors think of hearing loss as a minor issue that can be handled easily enough, while more than half of the respondents cited cost as a concern. When you factor in the conditions and significant side effects caused by neglecting hearing loss, however, the costs can increase dramatically. Here are the most prevalent negative effects of neglecting hearing loss.
Most people will not immediately connect the dots from fatigue to hearing loss. Instead, they will connect exhaustion to a number of different factors, like slowing down based on aging or a side-effect of medication. The truth is that the less you can hear, the more your body works to compensate, leaving you feeling exhausted. Imagine you are taking a test such as the SAT where your brain is totally focused on processing the task at hand. You will most likely feel exhausted once you finish. The same thing happens when you struggle to hear: your brain is working to fill in the blanks you’re missing in conversations – and when there is a lot of background sound this is even more difficult – and as you attempt to process the information, you use up valuable energy. Your overall health can be affected by this type of chronic fatigue and you can be left so run down you can’t take good care of yourself, passing up on things like going to the gym or cooking healthy meals.
Several studies by Johns Hopkins University linked hearing loss to , accelerated brain tissue loss, and dementia. Although these connections are not direct causations, they are correlations, researchers believe that the more cognitive resources expended trying to fill in the blanks of a conversation, the less there are to focus on other things such as memorization and comprehension. The decrease of brain function is sped up and there is a loss of grey matter with the additional draw on cognitive ability that comes with growing older. In addition, having a regular exchange of ideas and information, often through conversation, is believed to help seniors stay mentally tuned and can help reduce the process of cognitive decay. The fact that a link was discovered between loss of hearing and a decline in cognitive functions is encouraging for future research since the causes of these conditions can be identified and treatment options can be formulated when cognitive and hearing experts team up.
Issues With Your Mental Health
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 problem had mental health troubles like depression, anxiety, and paranoia, which negatively impacted their social and emotional well-being. Since difficulty communicating with others in family and social situations is normal for those with hearing loss, the link between mental health issues and hearing loss seems logical. This can lead to feelings of isolation, which can eventually result in depression. Because of these feelings of exclusion and solitude, anxiety and even paranoia can be the consequence, specifically if left untreated. Hearing aids have been shown to help in the recovery from depression, though anyone suffering from depression, anxiety, or paranoia should talk to with a mental health professional.
All the parts of our bodies are one interconnected machine – an evidently unconnected part can be impacted negatively if another part stops working as it is supposed to. This is the situation with our ears and hearts. As an example, when blood doesn’t flow freely from the heart to the inner ear, hearing loss will occur. Another disease that can affect the inner ear’s nerve ending, and is also linked to heart disease is diabetes which causes messages from the ear to the brain to become mixed up. In order to ascertain whether hearing loss is caused by heart disease or diabetes, if you have a family history of those illnesses contact both a hearing expert and a cardiac specialist because ignoring the symptoms can result in severe 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. Make your appointment for a hearing test.