Loss of hearing is a normal part of the aging process, unfortunately. Roughly 38 million people in the United States have some form of hearing loss, but a lot of people decide to just ignore it because it’s a normal part of aging. Neglecting hearing loss, however, can have serious negative side effects on a person’s entire well-being beyond their inability to hear.
Why do so many people decide to just live with 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 dealt with easily enough, while more than half of the respondents cited cost as a worry. When you consider the conditions and significant side effects caused by ignoring hearing loss, however, the costs can increase astronomically. Ignoring hearing loss has the following negative side effects.
Most people will not immediately connect the dots from fatigue to hearing loss. They are often in denial and will blame their fatigue on things like aging or a side-effect of medication. The truth is that the less you can hear, the more your body works to make up for it, leaving you feeling exhausted. Visualize a task where you need to be completely focused like taking the SAT exam. When you’re done, you likely feel drained. The same thing happens when you struggle to hear: during conversations, your brain is trying to fill in the blanks – which is generally made much more difficult when there is a lot of background noise – and as you attempt to process the information, you deplete valuable energy. This type of persistent fatigue can affect your health by leaving you too tired to take care of yourself, skipping out on things like going to the gym or cooking healthy meals.
Several studies by Johns Hopkins University linked hearing loss to , accelerated brain tissue loss, and dementia. Even though these connections are not direct causations, they are correlations, researchers think 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 memory and comprehension. And as people get older, the greater drain on cognitive resources can accelerate the decline of other brain functions and contribute to gray matter loss. The process of cognitive decline can be reduced and seniors can stay mentally tuned by the regular exchange of ideas through conversation. The future for researchers is encouraging due to the discovery of a link between the decline in cognitive function and loss of hearing, since the causes of these ailments can be identified and treatments can be developed when cognitive and hearing experts 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 those who ignored their hearing problem had mental health troubles such as depression, anxiety, and paranoia, which negatively impacted their emotional and social well-being. The link 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 situations. This can cause feelings of isolation, which can eventually result in depression. Because of these feelings of exclusion and solitude, anxiety and even paranoia can be the consequence, especially if neglected. It’s been shown that recovery from depression is aided by hearing aids. But a mental health professional should still be consulted if you suffer from paranoia, depression, or anxiety.
All the parts of our bodies are one interconnected machine – an evidently unconnected part can be impacted negatively if another part quits working as it should. This is the situation with our ears and hearts. As an example, when blood doesn’t flow easily from the heart to the inner ear, loss of hearing will occur. Another disease that can impact the inner ear’s nerve ending, and is also linked to heart disease is diabetes which causes messages from the ear to the brain to become scrambled. Those who have noticed some amount of hearing loss and who have a history of heart disease or diabetes in their families should seek advice from both a hearing and cardiac specialist to find out whether the hearing loss is indeed caused by a heart condition, since ignoring the symptoms could lead to severe, possibly fatal consequences.
Please contact us if you are having any of the negative effects outlined above or if you have hearing loss so we can help you live a healthier life. Schedule your appointment now.