It’s a regrettable fact of life that hearing loss is part of the aging process. Roughly 38 million people in the US have some form of hearing loss, but many people choose to just neglect it because it’s a normal part of aging. Ignoring hearing loss, however, can have severe negative side effects on a person’s entire well-being beyond their inability to hear.
Why do many people choose to simply live with hearing loss? According to an AARP study, more than one-third of senior citizens consider hearing loss to be a minor problem that can be handled easily enough, while more than half of the respondents cited cost as a concern. However, those costs can rise astronomically when you factor in the significant side effects and ailments that are triggered by neglecting hearing loss. Neglecting hearing loss has the following negative side effects.
Most people will not immediately connect the dots from fatigue to hearing loss. Alternatively, they will connect exhaustion to several other factors, such as slowing down due to aging or a side-effect of medication. The truth is that the less you are able to hear, the more your body works to compensate, leaving you feeling exhausted. Visualize a task where you need to be completely concentrated like taking the SAT exam. When you’re done, you probably feel exhausted. 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 much more difficult when there is a lot of background sound – and as you try to process the information, you spend valuable energy. This type of persistent exhaustion can impact your health by leaving you too tired to take care of yourself, leaving things like cooking healthy meals or going to the gym difficult to accomplish.
Johns Hopkins University conducted a study that linked hearing loss to , accelerated brain tissue loss, and dementia. While these links 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 you’ll have to dedicate to other things such as memorization and comprehension. The decline of brain function is accelerated and there is a loss of grey matter with the increased draw on cognitive capacity that comes with getting older. Additionally, having a frequent exchange of information and ideas, often through conversation, is thought to help seniors stay mentally fit and can help slow the process of cognitive decline. The fact that a link was discovered between hearing loss and a decline in cognitive functions is promising for future research since the causes of these ailments can be identified and treatments can be formulated when hearing and cognitive specialist work together.
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 people who ignored their hearing problem had mental health issues such as depression, anxiety, and paranoia, which negatively impacted their social and emotional well-being. Since trouble communicating with others in social and family situations is common for those with hearing loss, the connection between mental health problems and hearing loss seems logical. This can cause feelings of seclusion, 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 proven to aid in the recovery from depression, though anyone suffering from depression, anxiety, or paranoia should seek advice from 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 apparently unrelated part. This is the case with our ears and hearts. Case in point, hearing loss will happen when blood does not flow easily from the heart to the inner ear. Diabetes, which is also associated with heart disease, can affect the inner ear’s nerve endings and scramble messages from the ear to the brain. In order to find out whether loss of hearing 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 cause serious or even fatal repercussions.
Please contact us if you are experiencing any of the negative effects listed above or if you have hearing loss so we can help you live a healthier life. Make your appointment for a hearing test.