Loss of hearing is a normal part of getting older, unfortunately. Roughly 38 million people suffer from some kind of hearing loss in the United States, but because hearing loss is expected as we age, many decide to ignore it. However, beyond a person’s ability to hear, their overall life can be negatively affected if they neglect 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 participants cited cost as a worry. When you factor in the conditions and significant side effects caused by ignoring hearing loss, however, the costs can increase dramatically. Ignoring hearing loss has the following negative side effects.
Most people will not immediately connect the dots from fatigue to hearing loss. Alternatively, they will attribute fatigue to several different factors, like slowing down based on getting older or a side-effect of medication. In truth, as your brain attempts to make up for sound it can’t hear, you’re left feeling depleted. Imagine you are taking an exam such as the SAT where your brain is totally focused on processing the task at hand. You will most likely feel depleted once you finish. The same thing occurs when you struggle to hear: your brain is working to fill in the blanks you’re missing in conversations – which is often made much harder when there is a lot of background noise – and as you attempt to process the information, you use up valuable energy. Your overall health can be affected by this type of persistent fatigue and you can be left so tired you keep yourself healthy, leaving things like cooking healthy meals or going to the gym difficult to accomplish.
Several studies by Johns Hopkins University linked hearing loss to , accelerated brain tissue loss, and dementia. While these links are not direct causations, they are correlations, researchers think that the more cognitive resources spent trying to fill in the blanks of a conversation, the less the resources available for other things like comprehension and memory. The decline of brain function is sped up and there is a loss of grey matter with the increased draw on cognitive capacity that comes with getting older. The process of cognitive decline can be slowed and seniors can stay mentally fit by the regular exchange of ideas through conversation. The future for researchers is encouraging due to the discovery of a connection between the decline in cognitive function and hearing loss, since hearing and cognitive specialists can team up to pinpoint the causes and formulate treatment options for these ailments.
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 those who neglected their hearing problem had mental health issues like depression, anxiety, and paranoia, which negatively affected their emotional and social well-being. The link between loss of hearing and mental health problems makes sense since people with loss of hearing often have difficulty communicating with others in family or social situations. This can lead to feelings of seclusion, which can eventually result in depression. If neglected, anxiety and even paranoia can appear due to these feelings of seclusion and exclusion. It’s been shown that recovery from depression is helped by hearing aids. But a mental health professional should still be contacted if you suffer from depression, anxiety, or paranoia.
All the parts of our bodies are one interconnected machine – an evidently unconnected part can be affected negatively if another part stops functioning as it is supposed to. This is the case 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. Diabetes, which is also connected to heart disease, can impact the inner ear’s nerve endings and cause messages sent from the ear to the brain to become scrambled. In order to find out whether loss of hearing is caused by heart disease or diabetes, if you have a family history of those illnesses consult both a hearing expert and a cardiac specialist because neglecting the symptoms can result in severe or possibly even fatal repercussions.
If you have hearing loss or are experiencing any of the negative effects outlined above, feel free to reach out to us so we can help you live a healthier life. Make your appointment for a hearing test.