Hearing loss is a normal part of getting older, unfortunately. Approximately 38 million people suffer from some kind of hearing loss in the United States, but because hearing loss is expected as we age, many people decide to leave it unchecked. Neglecting 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 decide to just live with hearing loss? According to an AARP study, More than half of seniors cited costs as the major concern while one third regard hearing loss as a small issue that can be easily handled. However, those costs can rise astronomically when you factor in the significant side effects and conditions that are caused by ignoring hearing loss. 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 blame their fatigue on things such as aging or a side-effect of medication. In truth, as your brain tries to make up for sound it can’t hear, you’re left feeling fatigued. Imagine you are taking a test such as the SAT where your brain is completely concentrated on processing the task at hand. When you’re done, you probably feel depleted. When you struggle to hear, the same thing happens: your brain is working to fill in the blanks you’re missing in conversations – and if there is a lot of background sound this is even more difficult – and burns valuable energy just trying to process the discussion. Your overall health can be affected by this type of chronic exhaustion and you can be left so run down you can’t take good care of yourself, passing up on things like going to the gym or cooking healthy meals.
Johns Hopkins University conducted a study that 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 attempting to fill in the blanks of a conversation, the less there are to dedicate to other things such as memorization and comprehension. The decrease of brain function is accelerated and there is a loss of grey matter with the additional draw on cognitive ability that comes with aging. The process of cognitive decline can be reduced and seniors can stay mentally tuned by the regular exchange of ideas through conversation. The future for researchers is encouraging due to the discovery of a connection between the decline in cognitive function and loss of hearing, since cognitive and hearing specialists can team up to identify the causes and develop treatment options for these ailments.
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 those who neglected their hearing condition had mental health issues like depression, anxiety, and paranoia, which negatively impacted their emotional and social well-being. Since trouble communicating with others in social and family situations is typical for those with hearing loss, the connection between mental health problems and hearing loss seems logical. This can cause feelings of isolation, which can eventually lead to depression. If left untreated, anxiety and even paranoia can surface due to these feelings of seclusion and exclusion. Hearing aids have been shown to assist in the recovery from depression, though anyone suffering from depression, anxiety, or paranoia should consult with a mental health professional.
Our bodies are one interconnected machine – if one part stops working the way it’s supposed to, it could have a negative impact on another seemingly unrelated part. This is the case 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. Another disease that can affect the inner ear’s nerve ending, and is also connected to heart disease is diabetes which causes messages from the ear to the brain to get 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 both a hearing expert and a cardiac specialist because ignoring the symptoms can result in severe or even fatal consequences.
Please get in touch with us if you are having any of the negative effects outlined above or if you suffer from hearing loss so we can help you live a healthier life. Make your appointment for a hearing test.