It’s an unfortunate fact of life that hearing loss is part of the aging process. Approximately 38 million people cope with hearing loss in the U . S ., though many decide to dismiss it because they think about it as just a part of aging. But beyond the ability to hear, disregarding hearing loss can have serious adverse side effects.
Why do many people decide to simply live with hearing loss? According to an AARP study, more than one-third of senior citizens think of hearing loss as a minor concern that can be handled fairly easily, while cost was a concern for more than half of those who took part in the study. The costs of ignoring hearing loss, however, can be a lot higher because of complications and side effects that come with ignoring it. Here are the most common negative consequences of ignoring hearing loss.
Most people will not instantly connect the dots from fatigue to hearing loss. They will say, rather, that they are slowing down due to the side-effects of a medication or because they’re getting older. But actually, if you need to work harder to hear, it can deplete your physical resources. Remember how tired you were at times in your life when your brain needed to be totally focused on a task for prolonged periods of time. Once you’re finished, you probably feel exhausted. When you are struggling to hear, it’s a similar scenario: your brain is working 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 just trying to process information uses precious energy. Taking care of yourself requires energy that you won’t have with this kind of chronic fatigue. To adapt, 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 decreased cognitive functions , increased loss of brain tissue, and dementia. While these connections are correlations, instead of causations, it’s believed by researchers that, again, the more cognitive resources that are spent attempting to fill in the blanks of a conversation, the less there are to give attention to other things like comprehension and memorization. And as people age, the increased draw on cognitive resources can speed up the decline of other brain functions and worsen loss of gray matter. Moreover, it’s believed that the process of mental decline can be lessened and mental fitness can be maintained by sustained exchange of ideas, normally through conversation. Fortunately, cognitive specialist and hearing specialist can use the recognized link between mental decline and hearing loss to work together to undertake research and establish treatments that are encouraging in the near future.
Concerns With Mental Health
The National Council on the Aging performed a study of 2,300 senior citizens who suffered some form of hearing loss and found that people who neglected their condition were more likely to also be dealing with mental health problems including depression, anxiety, and paranoia, which negatively affected their emotional and social well-being. It makes sense that there’s a link between mental health and hearing loss problems since, in social and family situations, people who cope with hearing loss have a difficult time communicating with others. This can result in feelings of isolation, which can eventually result in depression. If neglected, anxiety and even paranoia can appear due to these feelings of solitude and exclusion. If you are dealing with anxiety or depression, you need to consult a mental health professional and you should also be aware that hearing aids have been shown to help people recover from some forms of depression.
Our bodies are one coordinated machine – if one component stops functioning as it is supposed to, it might have a detrimental impact on another seemingly unrelated part. This is the way it is with our hearts and ears. As a case in point, if blood flow from the heart to the inner ear is restricted, hearing loss may happen. Diabetes, which is also linked to heart disease, can affect the inner ear’s nerve endings and cause information sent to the brain from the ear to get scrambled. If heart disease is neglected serious or even potentially fatal repercussions can occur. So if you’ve detected some hearing loss and have a history of diabetes or heart disease in your family you should consult both a hearing and a cardiac specialist in order to figure out if your hearing loss is connected to a heart condition.
If you want to begin living a healthier life, contact us so we can help you address any adverse effects of hearing loss that you might suffer.