Loss of hearing is a normal part of getting older, unfortunately. Approximately 38 million people suffer from some kind of hearing loss in the United States, but since hearing loss is expected as we get older, many people choose to ignore it. 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 resist getting help for their hearing loss? According to an AARP study, More than half of senior citizens cited costs as the major worry while one third consider hearing loss as a small problem that can be easily handled. However, those costs can rise astronomically when you take into account the serious side effects and conditions that are triggered by neglecting hearing loss. Neglecting hearing loss has the following negative side effects.
Most people will not immediately connect the dots from fatigue to hearing loss. Alternatively, they will attribute fatigue to a number of different factors, like slowing down due to aging or a side-effect of medication. The reality is that the less you can hear, the more your body works to compensate, leaving you feeling drained. Imagine you are taking an exam such as the SAT where your brain is totally concentrated on processing the task at hand. You will likely feel depleted 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 generally made much more difficult when there is a lot of background sound – and as you try to process the conversation, you deplete valuable energy. This type of persistent exhaustion can affect your health by leaving you too run down to keep yourself healthy, leaving things like going to the gym or cooking healthy meals hard to accomplish.
Johns Hopkins University conducted a study that 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 that the more cognitive resources expended trying to fill in the blanks of a conversation, the less the resources available for other things like comprehension and memory. The decrease of brain function is accelerated and there is a loss of grey matter with the additional draw on cognitive capacity that comes with aging. The process of cognitive decline can be slowed and senior citizens can stay mentally tuned by the regular exchange of ideas through conversation. The future for researchers is promising due to the discovery of a link between the decrease in cognitive function and hearing loss, since the causes of these conditions can be pinpointed and treatment options can be developed when cognitive and hearing specialist team up.
Issues With Your Mental Health
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 condition had mental health troubles like depression, anxiety, and paranoia, which negatively impacted their emotional and social well-being. Since problems communicating with others in social and family situations is common for those with hearing loss, the link between mental health problems and hearing loss makes sense. This can lead to feelings of isolation, which can eventually lead to depression. If neglected, anxiety and even paranoia can surface due to these feelings of isolation and exclusion. Hearing aids have been proven to assist in the recovery from depression, however, anyone suffering from depression, anxiety, or paranoia should talk to with a mental health professional.
All the different parts of our bodies are one interconnected machine – an apparently unconnected part can be affected negatively if another part stops functioning as it should. This is the situation with our hearts and ears. Case in point, hearing loss will take place when blood does not flow freely from the heart to the inner ear. Diabetes, which is also linked to heart disease, can impact the inner ear’s nerve endings and cause messages sent from the ear to the brain to become scrambled. Those who have noticed some amount of hearing loss and who have a history of heart disease or diabetes in their families should seek advice from both a cardiac and hearing specialist to determine whether the hearing loss is indeed caused by a heart condition, since neglecting the symptoms could lead to severe, possibly fatal consequences.
Please reach out to us if you are experiencing any of the negative effects listed above or if you have loss of hearing so we can help you live a healthier life. Make your appointment for a hearing test.