It’s a regrettable fact of life that hearing loss is part of the aging process. Approximately 38 million people in the United States suffer from some form of hearing loss, though since hearing loss is expected as we age, many people choose to ignore it. Neglecting hearing loss, however, can have serious negative side effects on a person’s general well-being beyond how well they hear.
Why is the choice to just ignore hearing loss one that many people choose? According to an AARP study, more than one-third of senior citizens think of hearing loss as a minor problem that can be dealt with easily enough, while price was a worry for more than half of those who took part in the study. But, those costs can increase astronomically when you take into account the serious side effects and ailments that are brought on by ignoring hearing loss. Here are the most prevalent adverse effects of neglecting hearing loss.
The majority of people will not instantly connect the dots from fatigue to hearing loss. They will say, instead, that they are slowing down because of the side-effects of a medication or because they’re getting older. The truth is that the less you can hear, the more your body struggles to compensate for it, leaving you feeling drained. Think about taking an exam like the SAT where your brain is entirely concentrated on processing the task at hand. Once you’re done, you probably feel drained. The same situation occurs when you struggle to hear: when there are missing spots in conversation, your brain needs to work hard to substitute the missing information – which, when there is too much background noise, is even more difficult – and just trying to process information consumes valuable energy. Looking after yourself requires energy that you won’t have with this kind of chronic exhaustion. To adjust, you will avoid life-essential routines such as working out or eating healthy.
Hearing loss has been connected, by numerous Johns Hopkins University studies, to reduced cognitive functions , increased brain tissue loss, and dementia. While these links are correlations, not causations, it’s theorized by researchers that, again, the more cognitive resources that are spent attempting to fill in the blanks of a conversation, the less there are to give attention to other things including comprehension and memorization. And declining brain function, as we age is, directly connected to an additional draw on our mental resources. Besides that, it’s believed that the process of cognitive decline can be slowed and mental wellness can be maintained by sustained exchange of ideas, usually through conversation. The fact that a link between cognitive function and hearing loss was found is promising for future research since hearing and cognitive specialists can work together to pinpoint the factors and develop treatments for these ailments.
Problems With Mental Health
The National Council on the Aging carried out a study of 2,300 senior citizens who suffered some form of hearing loss and found that those who left their condition untreated were more likely to also be dealing with mental health problems including depression, anxiety, and paranoia, which negatively impacted their social and emotional well-being. The link between mental health issues and hearing loss adds up since, in social and family situations, people who cope with hearing loss have a difficult time interacting with others. This can lead to feelings of isolation, which can eventually result in depression. Feelings of exclusion and isolation can worsen to anxiety and even paranoia if left untreated. If you suffer from anxiety or depression, you need to consult a mental health professional and you should also be aware that hearing aids have been shown to help people recover from some forms of depression.
If one part of your body, which is an interconnected machine, stops functioning properly, it might have an impact on apparently unrelated bodily functions. This is the situation with our hearts and ears. Case in point, hearing loss will happen when blood does not easily flow from the heart to the inner ear. Diabetes, which is also connected to heart disease, can affect the inner ear’s nerve endings and cause messages sent to the brain from the ear to get scrambled. If heart disease is neglected severe or even potentially fatal repercussions can happen. So if you have noticed some hearing loss and have a history of diabetes or heart disease in your family you should seek advice from both a cardiac and hearing specialist so that you can figure out whether your hearing loss is connected to a heart condition.
If you deal with hearing loss or are going through any of the negative effects listed above, please reach out to us so we can help you have a healthier life.