It’s a regrettable fact of life that loss of hearing is part of the aging process. 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. However, beyond a person’s ability to hear, their entire health can be negatively impacted if they neglect their hearing loss.
Why do many people choose to simply live with hearing loss? According to an AARP study, more than one-third of seniors think of hearing loss as a minor issue that can be managed easily enough, while more than half of the respondents cited cost as a concern. When you factor in the conditions and serious side effects caused by ignoring hearing loss, however, the costs can go up dramatically. Ignoring hearing loss has the following negative side effects.
Most people will not immediately connect the dots from fatigue to hearing loss. They are often in denial and will blame their fatigue on things such as aging or a side-effect of medication. In reality, as your brain tries to make up for sound it can’t hear, you’re left feeling fatigued. Imagine you are taking a test such as the SAT where your brain is totally concentrated on processing the task at hand. When you’re done, you most likely feel depleted. When you struggle to hear, the same thing occurs: when having conversations, your brain is working to fill in the blanks – which is generally made even harder when there is a lot of background sound – and spends precious energy just attempting to digest the conversation. Your health can be affected by this type of chronic fatigue and you can be left so tired you keep yourself healthy, 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. While these connections are correlations instead of causations, it’s believed by researchers that the more cognitive resources spent attempting to fill in the blanks of a conversation, the less you’ll have to dedicate to other things like comprehension and memorization. The decrease of brain function is accelerated and there is a loss of grey matter with the additional draw on cognitive ability that comes with getting older. The process of cognitive decline can be slowed and senior citizens can stay mentally fit by the regular exchange of ideas through conversation. The future for researchers is promising due to the discovery of a connection between the decline in cognitive function and hearing loss, since the causes of these ailments can be determined and treatments can be formulated when cognitive and hearing experts work together.
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 hearing loss and mental health problems makes sense since people with hearing loss often have difficulty communicating with others in social or family scenarios. This can result in depression after suffering from persistent feelings of seclusion. Because of these feelings of exclusion and isolation, anxiety and even paranoia can be the consequence, particularly if neglected. Hearing aids have been shown to assist in the recovery from depression, however, anyone suffering from depression, anxiety, or paranoia should seek advice from with a mental health professional.
Our bodies are one interconnected machine – if one part stops functioning the way it’s supposed to, it might have a negative impact on another seemingly unrelated part. This is the situation with our ears and hearts. Case in point, hearing loss will occur when blood does not flow easily from the heart to the inner ear. 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 get mixed up. People who have noticed some degree of hearing loss and who have a history of heart disease or diabetes 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, potentially fatal repercussions.
Please get in touch with us if you are experiencing any of the negative effects listed above or if you have loss of hearing so we can help you live a healthier life. Make your appointment for a hearing test.