It’s a regrettable fact of life that hearing loss is part of the aging process. Roughly 38 million people in the United States deal with some kind of hearing loss, but since hearing loss is expected as we age, many people decide to ignore it. But beyond how well you hear, ignoring hearing loss can have severe adverse side effects.
Why do many people decide to simply deal with hearing loss? Based on an AARP study, more than one-third of senior citizens think of hearing loss as a minor problem that can be dealt with fairly easily, while price was a worry for more than half of those who took part in the study. The consequences of ignoring hearing loss, however, can be a lot higher due to conditions and adverse reactions that come with ignoring it. Here are the most common negative consequences of neglecting hearing loss.
The dots will not be connected by most people from fatigue to hearing loss. They will say, rather, that they are slowing down due to the side-effects of a medication or because they’re getting older. The reality is that the less you’re able to hear, the more your body struggles to make up for it, leaving you feeling exhausted. Think about taking an exam like the SAT where your brain is entirely focused on processing the task in front of you. You would most likely feel quite depleted after you’re finished. The same thing takes place when you struggle to hear: your brain is trying to fill in the blanks you’re missing in conversations – which is usually made even harder when there’s lots of background noise – and simply trying to process information consumes precious energy. Looking after yourself requires energy that you won’t have with this kind of chronic exhaustion. To adapt, you will skip life-essential activities such as working out or eating healthy.
Countless studies by Johns Hopkins University connected hearing loss to decreased cognitive functions , increased brain tissue loss, and dementia. Even though these links are not causation, they’re correlations, it’s theorized by researchers that, again, the more often you need to fill in the conversational blanks, which consumes cognitive resources, the less you have to give attention to other things including comprehension and memorization. And declining brain function, as we age is, directly connected to an additional draw on our mental resources. Moreover, it’s believed that the process of mental decline can be slowed and mental wellness can be maintained by sustained exchange of ideas, usually through conversation. The fact that a link was discovered between hearing loss and a decline in cognitive functions is encouraging for future research since hearing and cognitive specialists can work together to pinpoint the factors and develop treatments for these conditions.
Problems With Mental Health
The National Council on the Aging conducted a study of 2,300 seniors who suffered some form of hearing loss and found that people who left their condition untreated were more likely to also suffer from mental health problems including depression, anxiety, and paranoia, which negatively affected their social and emotional well-being. The link between mental health issues and hearing loss seems logical since, in social and family situations, individuals who suffer from hearing loss have a hard time interacting with others. Ultimately, feelings of isolation could become depression. If left untreated, anxiety and even paranoia can appear as a result of these feelings of isolation and exclusion. If you suffer from anxiety or depression, you need to consult a mental health professional and you should also be aware that hearing aids have been proven to help people recover from some kinds of depression.
Our bodies are one interconnected machine – if one part stops working as it should, it could have a negative impact on another seemingly unrelated part. This is the case with our hearts and ears. As a case in point, if blood flow from the heart to the inner ear is constrained, hearing loss may be the result. Another affliction connected to heart disease is diabetes which also impacts the nerve endings of the inner ear and can cause the brain to get scrambled signals. Individuals who have noticed some degree of hearing loss and who have a history of diabetes or heart disease in their families should contact both a hearing and cardiac specialist to ascertain whether the hearing loss is actually caused by a heart condition, since ignoring the symptoms could lead to severe, possibly fatal repercussions.
If you want to start living a healthier life, reach out to us so we can help you address any negative effects of hearing loss that you might suffer.