It’s a regrettable fact of life that hearing loss is part of getting older. Roughly 38 million people in the United States have some form of hearing loss, but many people choose to simply ignore it because it’s a normal part of getting older. Neglecting hearing loss, however, can have serious negative side effects on a person’s entire health beyond their inability to hear.
Why do many people decide to just live with hearing loss? According to an AARP study, more than one-third of senior citizens think of hearing loss as a minor issue that can be dealt with easily enough, while more than half of the respondents cited cost as a worry. However, those costs can increase astronomically when you take into account the significant side effects and conditions that are triggered by ignoring hearing loss. Ignoring hearing loss has the following negative side effects.
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 like aging or a side-effect of medication. The reality is that the less you are able to hear, the more your body works to make up for it, leaving you feeling tired. Imagine you are taking an exam such as the SAT where your brain is totally concentrated on processing the task at hand. When you’re done, you likely feel drained. When you struggle to hear, the same thing happens: during conversations, your brain is working to fill in the blanks – which is generally made much more difficult when there is a lot of background sound – and as you attempt to process the conversation, you use up valuable energy. This type of persistent exhaustion can affect your health by leaving you too run down to take care of yourself, leaving things like going to the gym or cooking healthy meals difficult to accomplish.
Johns Hopkins University conducted a study that linked hearing loss to , accelerated brain tissue loss, and dementia. While these links are not direct causations, they are correlations, it’s thought by researchers that the more cognitive resources used trying to fill in the blanks of a conversation, the less the resources available for other things like comprehension and memory. And as people age, the increased drain on cognitive resources can accelerate the decrease of other brain functions and contribute to gray matter loss. Also, having a regular exchange of information and ideas, often through conversation, is thought to help seniors stay mentally tuned and can help slow the process of cognitive decay. The discovery of a link between loss of hearing and a loss of cognitive functions is promising for future research since the causes of these conditions can be determined and treatment options can be developed when cognitive and hearing specialist team up.
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 paranoia, anxiety, and depression negatively impacted the emotional health more often than those who don’t have hearing loss. The connection between loss of hearing and mental health problems makes sense since people with hearing loss commonly have trouble communicating with others in family or social scenarios. This can lead to depression after suffering from prolonged feelings of isolation. Because of these feelings of exclusion and solitude, anxiety and even paranoia can be the result, specifically if neglected. Hearing aids have been shown to help in the recovery from depression, however, anyone suffering from depression, anxiety, or paranoia should consult with a mental health professional.
All the different parts of our bodies are one interconnected machine – an apparently unconnected part can be affected negatively if another part quits working as it is supposed to. This is the situation with our hearts and ears. For instance, hearing loss will take place when blood does not flow easily from the heart to the inner ear. Diabetes, which is also connected to heart disease, can impact the inner ear’s nerve endings and scramble messages from the ear to the brain. In order to ascertain whether loss of hearing is caused by heart disease or diabetes, if you have a family history of those illnesses contact both a hearing expert and a cardiac specialist because ignoring the symptoms can cause severe or even fatal repercussions.
Please contact us if you are having 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.