It’s a regrettable fact of life that hearing loss is part of getting older. Roughly 38 million people suffer from some kind of hearing loss in the United States, but many people decide to just neglect it because it’s a normal part of aging. Ignoring hearing loss, however, can have serious negative side effects on a person’s overall health beyond their inability to hear.
Why do so many people resist getting help for their hearing loss? According to an AARP study, more than one-third of senior citizens think of hearing loss as a minor problem that can be managed easily enough, while more than half of the participants cited cost as a worry. When you consider the conditions and significant side effects caused by neglecting hearing loss, however, the costs can go up dramatically. Here are the most common negative effects of ignoring hearing loss.
Most people will not immediately connect the dots from fatigue to hearing loss. They are commonly in denial and will attribute their fatigue on things such as getting older or a side-effect of medication. In truth, as your brain attempts to make up for sound it can’t hear, you’re left feeling fatigued. Visualize a task where you need to be completely focused 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 – and when there is a lot of background noise this is even more difficult – and spends precious energy just attempting to digest the discussion. This type of chronic fatigue can affect your health by leaving you too run down to keep yourself healthy, leaving things like cooking healthy meals or going to the gym hard to accomplish.
Several studies by Johns Hopkins University linked hearing loss to , accelerated brain tissue loss, and dementia. While these links are correlations instead of causations, it’s thought by researchers that the more cognitive resources spent attempting to fill in the blanks of a conversation, the less you’ll have to dedicate to other things such as comprehension and memorization. And as people get older, the increased drain on cognitive resources can accelerate the decrease of other brain functions and contribute to gray matter loss. The process of cognitive decline can be delayed and senior citizens can stay mentally fit by the regular exchange of ideas through conversation. The future for researchers is encouraging due to the discovery of a connection between the decrease in cognitive function and hearing loss, since the causes of these ailments can be identified and treatments can be formulated when hearing and cognitive experts work together.
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 ignored their hearing condition had mental health issues such as depression, anxiety, and paranoia, which negatively affected their emotional and social well-being. Since trouble communicating with others in family and social situations is common for those with hearing loss, the connection between mental health issues and hearing loss makes sense. 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, especially if neglected. Hearing aids have been shown to help in the recovery from depression, though anyone who has depression, anxiety, or paranoia should talk to with a mental health professional.
All the parts of our bodies are one interconnected machine – an apparently unconnected part can be affected negatively if another part stops working as it should. This is the situation with our hearts and ears. For instance, hearing loss will occur when blood does not flow freely from the heart to the inner ear. Diabetes, which is also connected to heart disease, can affect the inner ear’s nerve endings and scramble messages from the ear to the brain. In order to determine whether hearing loss is caused by heart disease or diabetes, if you have a family history of those illnesses consult with both a hearing expert and a cardiac specialist because neglecting the symptoms can cause serious or even fatal repercussions.
If you have loss of hearing or are having any of the negative effects listed above, please contact us so we can help you live a healthier life. Schedule your appointment now.