The unfortunate reality is, as you age, your hearing starts to fail. Approximately 38 million individuals suffer from hearing loss in the United States, though many people choose to disregard it because they consider it as just a part of aging. Disregarding hearing loss, though, can have major adverse side effects on a person’s general well-being beyond their inability to hear.
Why do so many people choose to just deal with hearing loss? Based on an AARP study, more than one-third of senior citizens think of hearing loss as a minor problem that can be dealt with easily enough, while price was a concern for more than half of those who participated in the study. But, those costs can rise astronomically when you take into account the significant adverse reactions and conditions that are brought on by neglecting hearing loss. Here are the most prevalent negative consequences of neglecting hearing loss.
Most people will not instantly connect the dots from fatigue to hearing loss. Instead, they will attribute fatigue to several different ideas, such as slowing down because of aging or a side-effect of medication. The truth is that the less you can hear, the more your body struggles to make up for it, leaving you feeling exhausted. Imagine you are taking an exam such as the SAT where your brain is entirely focused on processing the task at hand. Once you’re done, you probably feel exhausted. When you’re struggling to hear, it’s a similar situation: your brain is trying to fill in the blanks you’re missing in conversations – which, when there is enough background noise, is even more difficult – and simply trying to process information consumes precious energy. Looking after yourself requires energy that you won’t have with this type of chronic fatigue. To adjust, you will avoid life-essential routines such as working out or eating healthy.
Decline of Brain Function
Hearing loss has been linked, by numerous Johns Hopkins University studies, to diminishe cognitive functions , increased brain tissue loss, and dementia. Although these associations are not causation, they’re correlations, scientists believe that, once again, the more often you need to fill in the conversational blanks, which uses up cognitive resources, the less you have to focus on other things like comprehension and memorization. And as people age, the additional draw on cognitive resources can accelerate the decline of other brain functions and can lead to loss of gray matter. On top of that, it’s believed that the process of mental decline can be lessened and mental wellness can be preserved by a continued exchange of ideas, usually through conversation. The fact that a connection between cognitive function and hearing loss was found is encouraging for future research since hearing and cognitive specialists can work together to pinpoint the factors and develop treatments for these conditions.
Concerns With Mental Health
The National Council on the Aging discovered, from a study of more than two thousand senior citizens, that mental health issues that have a negative emotional and social impact, are more common if there is also untreated hearing loss. The connection between mental health issues and hearing loss makes sense since, in family and social situations, people who cope with hearing loss have a hard time interacting with others. This can result in feelings of separation, which can ultimately lead to depression. Feelings of exclusion and separation can worsen to anxiety and even paranoia if neglected. Hearing aids have been shown to aid in the recovery from depression, though anyone suffering from depression, anxiety, or paranoia should contact a mental health professional.
Our bodies are one coordinated machine – if one part stops working like it should, it may have a negative affect on another seemingly unrelated part. This is the case with our hearts and ears. Case in point, hearing loss will occur when blood does not easily flow from the heart to the inner ear. Another affliction associated with heart disease is diabetes which also impacts the nerve endings of the inner ear and can cause the brain to receive scrambled information. Individuals who have detected some degree of hearing loss and who have a history of diabetes or heart disease in their families should contact both a hearing and cardiac specialist to ascertain whether the hearing loss is indeed caused by a heart condition, since overlooking the symptoms could lead to severe, possibly fatal repercussions.
If you want to start living a healthier life, contact us so we can help you resolve any adverse effects of hearing loss that you may suffer.