Loss of hearing is a normal part of the aging process, unfortunately. Roughly 38 million people in the US have some form of hearing loss, but a lot of people choose to simply neglect it because it’s a normal part of getting older. Neglecting hearing loss, however, can have serious negative side effects on a person’s overall well-being beyond their inability to hear.
Why do so many people refuse to get help for their hearing loss? According to an AARP study, More than half of seniors cited costs as the major worry while one third regard hearing loss as a minor problem that can be easily handled. When you factor in the conditions and serious side effects caused by ignoring hearing loss, however, the costs can rise astronomically. 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 tiredness to a number of different factors, such as slowing down due to 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 exhausted. Imagine you are taking a test such as the SAT where your brain is totally concentrated on processing the task at hand. You will most likely feel depleted once you’re done. When you struggle to hear, the same thing occurs: during conversations, your brain is working to fill in the blanks – and if there is a lot of background sound this is even more overwhelming – and as you attempt to process the conversation, you deplete valuable energy. Your overall health can be impacted by this type of chronic fatigue and you can be left so tired you keep yourself healthy, leaving things like going to the gym or cooking healthy meals difficult to accomplish.
Several studies by Johns Hopkins University linked hearing loss to , accelerated brain tissue loss, and dementia. Although these links are not direct causations, they are correlations, it’s believed by researchers that the more cognitive resources expended trying to fill in the blanks of a conversation, the less the resources available for other things such as comprehension and memory. The decrease of brain function is sped up and there is a loss of grey matter with the additional draw on cognitive capacity that comes with getting older. The process of cognitive decline can be delayed and seniors can stay mentally tuned by the regular exchange of ideas through conversation. The discovery of a link between hearing loss and a loss of cognitive functions is encouraging for future research since the causes of these conditions can be determined and treatment options can be developed when cognitive and hearing specialist 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 people who ignored their hearing problem had mental health troubles like depression, anxiety, and paranoia, which negatively affected their emotional and social well-being. The connection between hearing loss and mental health problems makes sense since people with hearing loss commonly have difficulty communicating with others in social or family situations. This can lead to feelings of isolation, which can eventually result in depression. Because of these feelings of exclusion and isolation, anxiety and even paranoia can be the consequence, particularly if left untreated. Hearing aids have been proven to aid in the recovery from depression, though anyone who has depression, anxiety, or paranoia should consult with a mental health professional.
Our bodies are one interconnected machine – if one part quits working the way it’s supposed to, it might have a negative impact on another seemingly unrelated part. This is the case with our hearts and ears. As an example, when blood doesn’t flow easily from the heart to the inner ear, loss of hearing will happen. Another disease that can affect the inner ear’s nerve ending, and is also associated with 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 consult with both a hearing expert and a cardiac specialist because ignoring the symptoms can result in serious or even fatal consequences.
Please get in touch with us if you are experiencing any of the negative effects detailed above or if you have loss of hearing so we can help you live a healthier life. Schedule your appointment now.