Hearing loss is a normal part of aging, unfortunately. Approximately 38 million people in the US suffer from some form of hearing loss, but since hearing loss is expected as we get older, many people choose to leave it unchecked. Ignoring hearing loss, however, can have severe negative side effects on a person’s overall well-being beyond their inability to hear.
Why do so many people resist getting help for their hearing loss? According to an AARP study, More than half of senior citizens cited costs as the major worry while one third regard hearing loss as a minor problem that can be easily treated. When you consider the conditions and serious side effects caused by neglecting hearing loss, however, the costs can increase dramatically. Neglecting 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 attribute their fatigue on things such as aging or a side-effect of medication. The truth is that the less you can hear, the more your body works to compensate, leaving you feeling tired. Visualize a task where you have to be completely focused like taking the SAT test. You will most likely feel depleted once you finish. The same thing occurs when you struggle to hear: your brain is doing work to fill in the blanks you’re missing in conversations – which is often made even more difficult when there is a lot of background noise – and as you try to process the information, you deplete precious energy. This type of persistent exhaustion can impact your health by leaving you too run down to take care of yourself, 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. Even though these connections are correlations instead of causations, it’s believed by researchers the more the blanks need to be filled in by the brain, the more the cognitive resources needed and the less there are to focus on other things such as memorization and comprehension. And as people age, the increased drain on cognitive resources can accelerate the decline of other brain functions and contribute to gray matter loss. Additionally, having a frequent exchange of information and ideas, often through conversation, is believed to help seniors stay mentally tuned and can help delay the process of cognitive decay. The future for researchers is promising due to the discovery of a link between the decline in cognitive function and hearing loss, since the causes of these ailments can be identified and treatments can be formulated when cognitive and hearing experts team up.
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 health more often than those who don’t have hearing loss. Since difficulty communicating with others in social and family situations is normal for those with hearing loss, the connection between mental health problems and hearing loss makes sense. This can bring on depression after suffering from prolonged feelings of loneliness. Because of these feelings of exclusion and solitude, anxiety and even paranoia can be the consequence, especially if neglected. It’s been shown that recovery from depression is helped by hearing aids. But a mental health professional should still be consulted if you have depression, anxiety, or paranoia.
All the different parts of our bodies are one interconnected machine – an apparently unconnected part can be affected negatively if a different part stops functioning as it is supposed to. This is the situation with our ears and hearts. As an example, when blood doesn’t flow easily from the heart to the inner ear, loss of hearing will occur. 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. Those who have noticed some amount of hearing loss and who have a history of heart disease or diabetes in their families should seek advice from both a cardiac and hearing specialist to determine whether the hearing loss is indeed triggered by a heart condition, since neglecting the symptoms could lead to serious, possibly fatal consequences.
If you have hearing loss or are experiencing any of the negative effects listed above, please contact us so we can help you live a healthier life. Schedule your appointment now.