Loss of hearing is a normal part of getting older, unfortunately. Roughly 38 million people in the US have some form of hearing loss, but a lot of people choose to just ignore it because it’s a normal part of getting older. However, beyond a person’s ability to hear, their entire health can be negatively impacted 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 half of senior citizens cited costs as the major concern while one third regard hearing loss as a minor issue that can be easily treated. When you consider the conditions and serious side effects caused by ignoring hearing loss, however, the costs can increase dramatically. Here are the most common negative effects of neglecting hearing loss.
Most people will not immediately connect the dots from fatigue to hearing loss. Instead, they will connect exhaustion to a number of different factors, such as slowing down based on getting older or a side-effect of medication. In actuality, as your brain tries to make up for sound it can’t hear, you’re left feeling drained. Visualize a task where you need to be completely concentrated like taking the SAT test. When you’re done, you most likely feel exhausted. The same thing happens when you struggle to hear: your brain is doing work to fill in the blanks you’re missing in conversations – and when there is a lot of background noise this is even more difficult – and burns valuable energy just attempting to process the conversation. This type of chronic exhaustion can impact your health by leaving you too tired to keep yourself healthy, skipping out on things like cooking healthy meals or going to the gym.
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 thought by researchers the more the blanks need to be filled in by the brain, the more the cognitive resources needed and the less the resources available for other things such as comprehension and memory. And as people age, the greater draw on cognitive resources can speed up the decline of other brain functions and contribute to gray matter loss. In addition, having a frequent exchange of ideas and information, often through conversation, is believed to help seniors stay mentally tuned and can help reduce the process of cognitive decay. The future for researchers is promising due to the discovery of a link between the decrease in cognitive function and hearing loss, since cognitive and hearing specialists can work together to pinpoint the causes and develop treatments for these conditions.
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 paranoia, anxiety, and depression negatively affected the emotional well being more often than those who don’t have hearing loss. The connection between loss of hearing and mental health problems makes sense since those with loss of hearing often have difficulty communicating with others in family or social scenarios. This can result in depression after suffering from persistent feelings of isolation. Due to these feelings of exclusion and isolation, anxiety and even paranoia can be the result, particularly if neglected. It’s been demonstrated that recovery from depression is helped by hearing aids. But a mental health professional should still be contacted if you suffer from paranoia, depression, or anxiety.
Our bodies are one interconnected machine – if one part quits working as it should, it could have a negative effect on another apparently unrelated part. This is the case with our hearts and ears. Case in point, hearing loss will occur when blood doesn’t 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 be mixed up. Individuals who have detected some level of hearing loss and who have a history of heart disease or diabetes in their families should seek advice from both a hearing and cardiac specialist to find out whether the hearing loss is indeed triggered by a heart condition, since ignoring the symptoms could lead to severe, possibly fatal consequences.
Please reach out to us if you are having any of the negative effects listed above or if you suffer from loss of hearing so we can help you live a healthier life. Make your appointment for a hearing test.