Man with cardiac condition also suffering from hearing loss.

The regrettable truth is, as you age, your hearing starts to go. Approximately 38 million people cope with hearing loss in the United States, but many decide to ignore it because they think about it as just a part of aging. But beyond the ability to hear, disregarding hearing loss can have serious adverse side effects.

Why do so many people decide to just live with hearing loss? Based on an AARP study, more than one-third of senior citizens consider hearing loss to be a minor issue that can be managed fairly easily, while more than half of the participants reported cost as a concern. But, those costs can increase astronomically when you factor in the significant adverse reactions and conditions that are triggered by ignoring hearing loss. What are the most common complications of ignoring hearing loss?

Fatigue

The dots will not be connected by most people from fatigue to hearing loss. Instead, they will attribute fatigue to countless different factors, such as slowing down because of aging or a side-effect of medication. The truth is that the less you’re able to hear, the more your body works to make up for it, leaving you feeling exhausted. Recall how tired you were at times in your life when your brain needed to be completely focused on a task for prolonged time periods. Once you’re done, you likely feel drained. The same situation takes place when you struggle to hear: when there are blanks spots in conversation, your brain has to work extra hard to fill in the missing information – which is often made even harder when there’s a lot of background noise – and uses up valuable energy just attempting to process the conversation. Looking after yourself takes energy that you won’t have with this type of chronic fatigue. To adapt, you will skip life-essential activities such as working out or eating healthy.

Decline of Brain Function

Several studies by Johns Hopkins University linked hearing loss to reduced brain functions , accelerated brain tissue loss, and dementia. While these links are correlations, instead of causations, scientists believe that, once again, the more mental resources that are spent trying to fill in the blanks of a conversation, the less there are to give attention to other things including memorization and comprehension. And declining brain function, as we age is, directly linked to an additional draw on our mental resources. On top of that, it’s believed that the process of mental decline can be slowed and mental wellness can be preserved by sustained exchange of ideas, normally through conversation. The fact that a connection was discovered between hearing loss and a decline in cognitive functions is promising for future research since hearing and cognitive specialists can work together to pinpoint the causes and develop treatments for these ailments.

Mental Health Issues

The National Council on the Aging performed a study of 2,300 seniors who suffered some form of hearing loss and discovered that those who neglected their condition were more likely to also be dealing with mental health problems such as depression, anxiety, and paranoia, which negatively affected their social and emotional happiness. The connection between mental health issues and hearing loss makes sense since, in social and family situations, individuals who suffer from hearing loss have a difficult time communicating with others. This can lead to feelings of isolation, which can eventually lead to depression. If neglected, anxiety and even paranoia can surface as a result of these feelings of separation and exclusion. Hearing aids have been shown to aid in the recovery from depression, although anybody suffering from depression, anxiety, or paranoia should contact a mental health professional.

Cardiovascular Disease

Our bodies are one coordinated machine – if one component stops working as it should, it may have a detrimental impact on another seemingly unrelated part. This is the situation with our hearts and ears. As a case in point, if blood flow from the heart to the inner ear is constrained, hearing loss could happen. Diabetes, which is also linked to heart disease, can affect the inner ear’s nerve endings and cause messages sent from the ear to the brain to become scrambled. People who have detected some degree of hearing loss and who have a history of heart disease or diabetes in their families should consult with both a hearing and cardiac specialist to determine whether the hearing loss is actually caused by a heart condition, since neglecting the symptoms could lead to severe, possibly fatal repercussions.

If you want to begin living a healthier life, reach out to us so we can help you address any adverse effects of hearing loss that you might suffer.

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