It’s a regrettable fact of life that loss of hearing is part of the aging process. Approximately 38 million people suffer from some kind of hearing loss in the United States, but a lot of people choose to just ignore it because it’s a normal part of getting older. Neglecting hearing loss, however, can have serious negative side effects on a person’s overall well-being beyond their inability to hear.
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 concern while one third consider hearing loss as a minor issue that can be easily treated. When you consider the conditions and serious side effects caused by ignoring hearing loss, however, the costs can increase astronomically. Here are the most prevalent 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 such as aging or a side-effect of medication. In truth, as your brain attempts to compensate for sound it can’t hear, you’re left feeling depleted. Imagine you are taking an exam like the SAT where your brain is completely concentrated on processing the task at hand. You will likely feel drained once you finish. The same thing occurs when you struggle to hear: your brain is working to fill in the blanks you’re missing in conversations – which is often made much more difficult when there is a lot of background noise – and as you try to process the conversation, you spend valuable energy. This type of persistent fatigue can impact your health by leaving you too tired to take care of yourself, leaving things like going to the gym or cooking healthy meals hard to accomplish.
Several studies by Johns Hopkins University linked hearing loss to , accelerated brain tissue loss, and dementia. Even though these links are correlations instead of causations, it’s thought by researchers that the more cognitive resources spent trying to fill in the blanks of a conversation, the less you’ll have to focus on other things like memorization and comprehension. The decrease of brain function is sped up and there is a loss of grey matter with the increased draw on cognitive capacity that comes with aging. 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 loss of cognitive functions is promising for future research since hearing and cognitive experts can team up to determine the causes and develop treatments for these conditions.
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 issues like depression, anxiety, and paranoia, which negatively impacted their social and emotional well-being. The link between loss of hearing and mental health problems makes sense since those with hearing loss commonly have trouble communicating with others in family or social situations. This can cause feelings of isolation, which can eventually result in depression. If neglected, anxiety and even paranoia can surface due to these feelings of loneliness and exclusion. Hearing aids have been proven to aid in the recovery from depression, however, anyone who has depression, anxiety, or paranoia should consult with a mental health professional.
All the different parts of our bodies are one interconnected machine – an evidently unconnected part can be impacted negatively if another part stops working as it is supposed to. This is the case with our hearts and ears. Case in point, hearing loss will happen when blood doesn’t flow freely 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 from the ear to the brain to become scrambled. People who have detected some degree of hearing loss and who have a history of heart disease or diabetes in their families should consult with both a hearing and cardiac specialist to determine whether the hearing loss is indeed triggered by a heart condition, since ignoring the symptoms could lead to severe, potentially fatal repercussions.
Please get in touch with us if you are experiencing any of the negative effects detailed above or if you suffer from hearing loss so we can help you live a healthier life. Make your appointment for a hearing test.