It’s an unfortunate fact of life that hearing loss is part of the aging process. Roughly 38 million individuals suffer from hearing loss in the United States, though many people decide to disregard it because they think about it as just a part of getting older. Ignoring hearing loss, though, can have major adverse side effects on a person’s entire well-being beyond their inability to hear.
Why is the choice to just ignore hearing loss one that many people choose? According to an AARP study, hearing loss is, thought to be by a third of seniors, an issue that’s minor and can be handled easily, while cost was a worry for more than half of individuals who took part in the study. The costs of ignoring hearing loss, however, can be a lot higher because of complications and adverse reactions that come with leaving it untreated. What are the most common complications of ignoring hearing loss?
The majority of people will not instantly put two and two together from fatigue to hearing loss. They will say, instead, that they are slowing down because of the side-effects of a medication or because they’re getting older. The fact is that the less you can hear, the more your body works to compensate for it, leaving you feeling tired. Imagine you are taking an exam such as the SAT where your brain is entirely focused on processing the task in front of you. You would probably feel quite drained after you’re finished. When you are struggling to hear, it’s an equivalent scenario: your brain is working to fill in the blanks you’re missing in conversations – which, when there’s too much background noise, is even more difficult – and just attempting to process information uses valuable energy. This kind of chronic fatigue 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.
Decline of Brain Function
A number of studies conducted by Johns Hopkins University linked hearing loss to decreased brain functions , accelerated brain tissue loss, and dementia. Even though these links are not causation, they’re correlations, scientists believe that, again, the more often you need to fill in the conversational blanks, which uses up mental resources, the less there are to focus on other things including comprehension and memorization. And as people get older, the increased draw on cognitive resources can speed up the decline of other brain functions and worsen loss of gray matter. What’s more, having a routine exchange of ideas and information, often through conversation, is believed to help seniors stay mentally fit and can help decrease the process of cognitive decline. The fact that a connection was discovered between hearing loss and a decline in cognitive functions is promising for future research since hearing and cognitive specialists can collaborate to pinpoint the factors and develop treatments for these conditions.
Mental Health Issues
The National Council on the Aging carried out a study of 2,300 senior citizens who were dealing with some form of hearing loss and discovered that those who neglected their condition were more likely to also be dealing with mental health problems like depression, anxiety, and paranoia, which negatively impacted their emotional and social well-being. It makes sense that there is a link between hearing loss and mental health problems since, in family and social situations, people who suffer from hearing loss have a difficult time communicating with others. Ultimately, feelings of separation could develop into depression. If left untreated, anxiety and even paranoia can appear due to these feelings of separation and exclusion. Hearing aids have been shown to help in the recovery from depression, although anyone suffering from depression, anxiety, or paranoia should contact a mental health professional.
If one part of your body, which is a coordinated machine, stops working properly, it could have an affect on apparently unrelated bodily functions. This is the situation 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 occur. Another affliction associated with heart disease is diabetes which also impacts the nerve endings of the inner ear and sometimes causes the brain to receive scrambled information. Individuals who have detected some amount of hearing loss and who have a history of diabetes or heart disease 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 neglecting the symptoms could lead to severe, possibly fatal consequences.
If you want to start living a healthier life, reach out to us so we can help you solve any adverse effects of hearing loss that you might suffer.