Hearing loss is a normal part of aging, unfortunately. Approximately 38 million people in the US suffer from some form of hearing loss, but many people choose to just neglect it because it’s a normal part of aging. However, beyond a person’s ability to hear, their whole health can be negatively impacted if they ignore their hearing loss.
Why do so many people resist getting help for their hearing loss? According to an AARP study, more than one-third of seniors think of hearing loss as a minor issue that can be managed easily enough, while more than half of the respondents cited cost as a concern. However, those costs can increase astronomically when you factor in the serious side effects and ailments that are brought on by ignoring hearing loss. Here are the most common negative effects of ignoring hearing loss.
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. In actuality, as your brain attempts to compensate for sound it can’t hear, you’re left feeling drained. Visualize a task where you have to be completely concentrated like taking the SAT exam. After you’re finished, you probably feel drained. When you struggle to hear, the same thing occurs: during conversations, your brain is working to fill in the blanks – and if there is a lot of background sound this is even more difficult – and as you try to process the information, you deplete precious energy. This type of persistent exhaustion can impact your health by leaving you too tired to keep yourself healthy, leaving things like cooking healthy meals or going to the gym difficult to accomplish.
Several studies by Johns Hopkins University linked hearing loss to , accelerated brain tissue loss, and dementia. While these connections are not direct causations, they are correlations, 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. The decline of brain function is sped up and there is a loss of grey matter with the increased draw on cognitive ability that comes with getting older. The process of cognitive decline can be slowed and senior citizens can stay mentally fit by the regular exchange of ideas through conversation. The fact that a link was discovered between hearing loss and a decline in cognitive functions is encouraging for future research since cognitive and hearing experts can work together to pinpoint the causes and formulate treatments for these ailments.
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. Since difficulty communicating with others in social and family situations is normal for those with hearing loss, the connection between mental health problems and hearing loss seems logical. This can bring on depression after suffering from persistent feelings of loneliness. Due to these feelings of exclusion and solitude, anxiety and even paranoia can be the result, specifically if left untreated. Hearing aids have been proven to aid in the recovery from depression, however, anyone who has depression, anxiety, or paranoia should seek advice from with a mental health professional.
All the parts of our bodies are one interconnected machine – an apparently unconnected part can be impacted negatively if a different part quits working as it should. This is the situation with our ears and hearts. Case in point, hearing loss will take place when blood does not flow freely from the heart to the inner ear. 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 get 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 both a hearing expert and a cardiac specialist because ignoring the symptoms can result in severe or possibly even fatal repercussions.
Please reach out to us if you are having any of the negative effects outlined above or if you suffer from hearing loss so we can help you live a healthier life. Schedule your appointment now.