It’s an unfortunate truth that hearing loss is part of the aging process. Roughly 38 million people in the U.S. deal with some form of hearing loss, though since hearing loss is expected as we get older, many people choose to leave it unchecked. But beyond the ability to hear, ignoring hearing loss will have serious adverse side effects.
Why do many people decide to just live with hearing loss? According to an AARP study, hearing loss is, thought to be by a third of senior citizens, a concern that’s minor and can be handled easily, while more than half of the respondents reported cost as a concern. But, those costs can rise incredibly when you factor in the significant side effects and conditions that are triggered by ignoring hearing loss. Here are the most common negative effects of ignoring hearing loss.
The dots will not be connected by most people from fatigue to hearing loss. Instead, they will blame their fatigue on countless different ideas, like slowing down due to aging or a side-effect of medication. The fact is that the less you can hear, the more your body works to make up for it, leaving you feeling drained. Imagine you are taking an exam such as the SAT where your brain is entirely concentrated on processing the task in front of you. You would most likely feel fairly drained after you’re finished. When you’re struggling to hear, it’s an equivalent situation: your brain is trying to fill in the blanks you’re missing in conversations – which is usually made even more difficult when there’s lots of background noise – and uses up valuable energy just attempting to manage the conversation. This kind of chronic tiredness can impact your health by leaving you too tired to care for yourself, cutting out things like going to the gym or cooking wholesome meals.
Numerous studies conducted by Johns Hopkins University connected hearing loss to reduced brain functions , accelerated brain tissue loss, and dementia. While these links are correlations, not causations, it’s theorized by researchers that, again, the more often you need to fill in the conversational blanks, which uses up cognitive resources, the less you have to focus on other things like memorization and comprehension. And as people get older, the additional draw on cognitive resources can accelerate the decline of other brain functions and can lead to loss of gray matter. Moreover, it’s believed that the process of cognitive decline can be slowed and mental wellness can be preserved by sustained exchange of ideas, usually through conversation. Fortunately, cognitive specialist and hearing specialist can use the known link between mental decline and hearing loss to collaborate to carry out research and develop treatments that are encouraging in the near future.
Concerns With Mental Health
The National Council on the Aging found, from a study of over two thousand seniors, that mental health issues which have a negative emotional and social affect, are more common if there is also untreated hearing loss. It is obvious that there is a connection between hearing loss and mental health problems since, in social and family situations, people who cope with hearing loss have a hard time communicating with others. This can result in feelings of isolation, which can eventually result in depression. Feelings of exclusion and isolation can escalate to anxiety and even paranoia if neglected. If you are dealing with anxiety or depression, you need to contact a mental health professional and you also should be aware that hearing aids have been proven to help people recover from some kinds of depression.
If one portion of your body, which is an interconnected machine, stops functioning properly, it might have an impact on apparently unrelated bodily functions. This is the case with our hearts and ears. For instance, hearing loss will happen when blood doesn’t flow easily from the heart to the inner ear. Diabetes, which is also connected to heart disease, can impact the inner ear’s nerve endings and cause messages sent to the brain from the ear to get scrambled. If heart disease is ignored serious or even possibly fatal repercussions can occur. So if you have noticed some hearing loss and have a history of diabetes or heart disease in your family you should consult both a cardiac and hearing specialist in order to determine if your hearing loss is linked to a heart condition.
If you want to start living a healthier life, reach out to us so we can help you resolve any negative effects of hearing loss that you might suffer.