It’s a regrettable fact of life that loss of hearing is part of the aging process. Roughly 38 million people suffer from some kind of hearing loss in the United States, but many people decide to simply neglect it because it’s a normal part of getting older. Neglecting hearing loss, however, can have severe negative side effects on a person’s entire 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 consider hearing loss to be 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 rise dramatically. 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 such as aging or a side-effect of medication. The reality is that the less you can hear, the more your body works to compensate, leaving you feeling tired. Visualize a task where you have to be totally focused like taking the SAT test. You will most likely feel exhausted once you finish. The same thing occurs when you struggle to hear: during conversations, your brain is trying to fill in the blanks – which is often made much harder when there is a lot of background noise – and as you attempt to process the conversation, you deplete valuable energy. Your overall health can be affected by this type of persistent exhaustion and you can be left so run down you can’t take good care of yourself, passing up on things like cooking healthy meals or going to the gym.
Several studies by Johns Hopkins University linked hearing loss to , accelerated brain tissue loss, and dementia. Even though these connections are correlations instead of causations, researchers believe the more the blanks need to be filled in by the brain, the more the cognitive resources needed and the less the resources available for other things such as comprehension and memory. And as people get older, the increased draw on cognitive resources can accelerate the decrease of other brain functions and contribute to gray matter loss. Additionally, having a frequent exchange of information and ideas, often through conversation, is believed to help senior citizens stay mentally tuned and can help delay the process of cognitive decay. The future for researchers is promising due to the discovery of a connection between the decrease in cognitive function and loss of hearing, since hearing and cognitive specialists can team up to identify the causes and formulate treatments for these conditions.
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 people who neglected their hearing problem had mental health issues like depression, anxiety, and paranoia, which negatively affected their social and emotional well-being. Since trouble communicating with others in social and family situations is typical for those with hearing loss, the connection between mental health problems and hearing loss seems logical. This can result in depression after suffering from prolonged feelings of isolation. Because of these feelings of exclusion and solitude, anxiety and even paranoia can be the consequence, especially if neglected. Hearing aids have been proven to assist in the recovery from depression, however, anyone suffering from depression, anxiety, or paranoia should consult with a mental health professional.
All the parts of our bodies are one interconnected machine – an apparently unconnected part can be affected negatively if a different part stops functioning as it should. This is the case with our hearts and ears. Case in point, hearing loss will happen when blood doesn’t flow easily from the heart to the inner ear. Another disease that can affect the inner ear’s nerve ending, and is also connected to heart disease is diabetes which causes messages from the ear to the brain to be scrambled. In order to determine whether loss of hearing 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 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 suffer from loss of hearing so we can help you live a healthier life. Schedule your appointment now.