It’s an unfortunate fact of life that hearing loss is part of getting older. Roughly 38 million people in the US suffer from some form of hearing loss, but many people decide to simply ignore it because it’s a normal part of aging. However, beyond a person’s ability to hear, their entire health can be negatively affected if they neglect their hearing loss.
Why do so many people resist getting help for their hearing loss? According to an AARP study, More than half of seniors cited costs as the major worry while one third consider hearing loss as a small issue that can be easily treated. When you consider the conditions and significant side effects caused by neglecting hearing loss, however, the costs can increase astronomically. Neglecting 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 getting older or a side-effect of medication. In reality, as your brain attempts to compensate for sound it doesn’t hear, you’re left feeling exhausted. Visualize a task where you need to be totally concentrated like taking the SAT test. After you’re done, you most likely feel depleted. When you struggle to hear, the same thing occurs: when having conversations, your brain is trying to fill in the blanks – and if there is a lot of background noise this is even more difficult – and as you attempt to process the conversation, you spend valuable energy. This type of chronic fatigue can impact your health by leaving you too run down to keep yourself healthy, passing up on things like going to the gym or cooking healthy meals.
Johns Hopkins University conducted a study that linked hearing loss to , accelerated brain tissue loss, and dementia. Although 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 there are to focus on other things like memorization and comprehension. The decrease of brain function is accelerated and there is a loss of grey matter with the increased draw on cognitive ability that comes with getting older. In addition, having a regular exchange of ideas and information, often through conversation, is thought to help senior citizens stay mentally tuned and can help reduce the process of cognitive decline. The future for researchers is encouraging due to the discovery of a connection between the decline in cognitive function and loss of hearing, since the causes of these conditions can be determined and treatments can be developed when hearing and cognitive specialist work together.
Mental Health Issues
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 neglected their hearing condition had mental health troubles like depression, anxiety, and paranoia, which negatively affected their emotional and social well-being. Since trouble communicating with others in family and social situations is common for those with hearing loss, the connection between mental health issues and hearing loss makes sense. This can cause feelings of seclusion, which can eventually lead to depression. Due to these feelings of exclusion and solitude, anxiety and even paranoia can be the consequence, specifically if left untreated. Hearing aids have been shown to aid in the recovery from depression, though anyone suffering from 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 affected negatively if a different part quits functioning as it is supposed to. This is the situation with our hearts and ears. 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 affect the inner ear’s nerve ending, and is also associated with heart disease is diabetes which causes messages from the ear to the brain to be scrambled. In order to find out whether hearing loss is caused by heart disease or diabetes, if you have a family history of those illnesses contact both a hearing expert and a cardiac specialist because ignoring the symptoms can result in serious or even fatal consequences.
If you have hearing loss or are having any of the negative effects outlined above, please contact us so we can help you live a healthier life. Make your appointment for a hearing test.