It’s a regrettable fact of life that loss of hearing is part of getting older. Approximately 38 million people suffer from some kind of hearing loss in the United States, but a lot of people choose to just neglect it because it’s a normal part of getting older. Ignoring hearing loss, however, can have serious negative side effects on a person’s overall health beyond their inability to hear.
Why do many people decide to just live with 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 handled. When you consider the conditions and serious side effects caused by neglecting hearing loss, however, the costs can increase dramatically. Ignoring hearing loss has the following negative side effects.
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 getting older or a side-effect of medication. In reality, as your brain tries to make up for sound it can’t hear, you’re left feeling exhausted. Visualize a task where you need to be completely concentrated like taking the SAT test. When you’re done, you probably feel depleted. When you struggle to hear, the same thing occurs: when having conversations, your brain is trying to fill in the blanks – which is generally made much more difficult when there is a lot of background noise – and uses up valuable energy just trying to process the discussion. This type of chronic fatigue can impact your health by leaving you too run down to keep yourself healthy, leaving things like cooking healthy meals or going to the gym difficult to accomplish.
Johns Hopkins University conducted a study that linked hearing loss to , accelerated brain tissue loss, and dementia. Even though these connections are not direct causations, they are correlations, it’s thought by researchers that the more cognitive resources spent trying to fill in the blanks of a conversation, the less the resources available for other things such as comprehension and memory. And as people get older, the increased draw on cognitive resources can speed up the decline of other brain functions and contribute to gray matter loss. Additionally, having a regular exchange of ideas and information, often through conversation, is thought to help seniors stay mentally fit and can help reduce the process of cognitive decay. The fact that a link was discovered between hearing loss and a decline in cognitive functions is promising for future research since hearing and cognitive experts can team up to identify the causes and develop treatments for these conditions.
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 paranoia, anxiety, and depression negatively affected the emotional health more often than those who don’t have hearing loss. Since trouble communicating with others in social and family situations is common for those with hearing loss, the link between mental health issues and hearing loss seems logical. This can cause feelings of isolation, which can eventually result in depression. Because of these feelings of exclusion and isolation, anxiety and even paranoia can be the consequence, particularly if left untreated. It’s been shown that recovery from depression is helped by wearing hearing aids. But a mental health professional should still be contacted if you have paranoia, depression, or anxiety.
Our bodies are one interconnected machine – if one part quits working as it should, it could have a negative effect on another apparently unrelated part. 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. 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. Individuals who have noticed some amount 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 serious, possibly fatal repercussions.
Please get in touch with us if you are experiencing any of the negative effects detailed above or if you have loss of hearing so we can help you live a healthier life. Make your appointment for a hearing test.