It’s a regrettable truth that hearing loss is part of the aging process. Approximately 38 million people in the United States deal with some form of hearing loss, though since hearing loss is expected as we age, many people decide to just deal with it. Neglecting hearing loss, though, can have significant negative side effects on a person’s over-all well-being beyond how well they hear.
Why do so many people choose to just accept hearing loss? Based on an AARP study, more than one-third of senior citizens think of hearing loss as a minor issue that can be handled fairly easily, while greater than half of the participants reported cost as a concern. The consequences of ignoring hearing loss, however, can become a great deal higher as a result of complications and side effects that come with leaving it untreated. Here are the most common adverse consequences of neglecting hearing loss.
Most people won’t immediately connect the dots from fatigue to hearing loss. Instead, they will attribute fatigue to countless different ideas, like slowing down due to aging or a side-effect of medication. But actually, if you have to work extra hard to hear, it can deplete your physical resources. Recall how tired you were at times in your life when your brain had to be totally focused on a task for prolonged periods of time. Once you’re finished, you likely feel exhausted. The same situation occurs when you struggle to hear: when there are blanks spots in conversation, your brain needs to work extra hard to substitute the missing information – which, when there is enough background noise, is even more difficult – and uses up valuable energy just attempting to process the conversation. This type of chronic fatigue can affect your health by leaving you too tired to take care of yourself, cutting out things like going to the gym or cooking healthy meals.
Decline of Brain Function
Hearing loss has been connected, by numerous Johns Hopkins University studies, to decreased cognitive functions , accelerated loss of brain tissue, and dementia. Even though these links are not causation, they’re correlations, it’s theorized by researchers that, once again, the more mental resources that are used attempting to fill in the blanks of a conversation, the less there are to focus on other things like comprehension and memorization. And declining brain function, as we age is, directly connected to an increased draw on our mental resources. What’s more, having a routine exchange of ideas and information, often through conversation, is thought to help seniors remain mentally fit and can help decrease the process of cognitive decline. Luckily, cognitive specialist and hearing specialist can use the known connection between mental decline and hearing loss to work together to carry out research and establish treatments that are encouraging in the near future.
Mental Health Issues
The National Council on the Aging found, from a study of more than two thousand senior citizens, that mental health problems that have a negative social and emotional affect, are more prevalent if there is also untreated hearing loss. The link between mental health issues and hearing loss adds up since people who suffer from hearing loss often have a hard time communicating with others in family or social situations. This can result in feelings of isolation, which can ultimately lead to depression. Feelings of exclusion and isolation can escalate to anxiety and even paranoia if neglected. Hearing aids have been proven to aid in the recovery from depression, although anybody suffering from depression, anxiety, or paranoia should consult with a mental health professional.
Our bodies are one interconnected machine – if one part stops functioning as it is supposed to, it might have a negative affect on another seemingly unrelated part. This is the way it is with our hearts and ears. Case in point, hearing loss will happen when blood does not easily flow from the heart to the inner ear. Diabetes, which is also connected to heart disease, can impact the inner ear’s nerve endings and cause information sent to the brain from the ear to get scrambled. Individuals who have noticed some amount of hearing loss and who have a history of heart disease or diabetes in their families should contact both a hearing and cardiac specialist to figure out whether the hearing loss is indeed caused by a heart condition, since ignoring the symptoms might lead to severe, possibly fatal repercussions.
If you have hearing loss or are going through any of the negative effects listed above, please contact us for a consultation so we can help you live a healthier life.