Hearing loss is a normal part of getting older, unfortunately. Roughly 38 million people suffer from some kind of hearing loss in the United States, though since hearing loss is expected as we get older, many choose to leave it unchecked. Ignoring hearing loss, however, can have serious negative side effects on a person’s entire health beyond their inability to hear.
Why do so many people refuse to get help for their hearing loss? According to an AARP study, More than half of seniors cited costs as the major concern while one third regard hearing loss as a small issue that can be easily handled. When you consider the conditions and significant side effects caused by neglecting hearing loss, however, the costs can increase dramatically. 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 commonly in denial and will attribute their fatigue on things such as aging or a side-effect of medication. In actuality, as your brain tries to compensate for sound it doesn’t hear, you’re left feeling depleted. Visualize a task where you need to be totally concentrated like taking the SAT exam. You will likely feel drained once you finish. The same thing occurs when you struggle to hear: during 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 spends precious energy just trying to digest the discussion. This type of persistent fatigue can impact your health by leaving you too tired to take care of yourself, passing up 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. Although these links are not direct causations, they are correlations, it’s thought by researchers 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 like memory and comprehension. And as people get older, the increased drain on cognitive resources can speed up the decline of other brain functions and contribute to gray matter loss. The process of cognitive decline can be slowed 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 connection between the decrease in cognitive function and hearing loss, since cognitive and hearing specialists can team up to determine the causes and develop treatment options for these ailments.
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 people who neglected their hearing problem had mental health troubles like depression, anxiety, and paranoia, which negatively affected their emotional and social well-being. Since problems communicating with others in social and family situations is normal for those with hearing loss, the link between mental health problems and hearing loss makes sense. This can lead to feelings of seclusion, which can eventually result in depression. Because of these feelings of exclusion and isolation, anxiety and even paranoia can be the consequence, specifically if neglected. It’s been demonstrated that recovery from depression is aided by wearing hearing aids. But a mental health professional should still be contacted if you have paranoia, depression, or anxiety.
All the different 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 case with our ears and hearts. Case in point, hearing loss will occur when blood doesn’t 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 become mixed up. 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 repercussions.
Please get in touch with us if you are having any of the negative effects detailed above or if you suffer from loss of hearing so we can help you live a healthier life. Make your appointment for a hearing test.