Hearing loss is a normal part of aging, unfortunately. Roughly 38 million people in the United States suffer from some form of hearing loss, but many people decide to simply ignore it because it’s a normal part of getting older. However, beyond a person’s ability to hear, their whole health can be negatively impacted if they neglect their hearing loss.
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 consider hearing loss as a small issue that can be easily handled. However, those costs can rise astronomically when you factor in the significant side effects and ailments that are caused 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. Instead, they will connect exhaustion to several different factors, like slowing down due to getting older or a side-effect of medication. The truth is that the less you can hear, the more your body works to compensate, leaving you feeling exhausted. Imagine you are taking an exam like the SAT where your brain is completely concentrated on processing the task at hand. Once you’re done, you probably feel exhausted. When you struggle to hear, the same thing occurs: when having conversations, your brain is trying to fill in the blanks – which is often made even more difficult when there is a lot of background noise – and as you attempt to process the information, you spend precious energy. Your health can be impacted by this type of chronic fatigue and you can be left so run down you can’t take good care of yourself, 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. While these links are not direct causations, they are correlations, researchers think that the more cognitive resources used trying to fill in the blanks of a conversation, the less the resources available for other things like memory and comprehension. And as people get older, the greater drain on cognitive resources can speed up the decline of other brain functions and contribute to gray matter loss. In addition, having a regular exchange of information and ideas, often through conversation, is believed to help senior citizens stay mentally tuned and can help slow the process of cognitive decay. The future for researchers is promising due to the discovery of a link between the decrease in cognitive function and loss of hearing, since hearing and cognitive specialists can work together to determine the causes and develop treatments for these ailments.
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 issues like depression, anxiety, and paranoia, which negatively affected their emotional and social well-being. The connection between loss of hearing and mental health problems makes sense since people with hearing loss often have trouble communicating with others in family or social scenarios. This can bring on depression after suffering from persistent feelings of isolation. Because of these feelings of exclusion and isolation, anxiety and even paranoia can be the result, especially if neglected. Hearing aids have been shown to aid in the recovery from depression, however, anyone who has depression, anxiety, or paranoia should talk to with a mental health professional.
All the different parts of our bodies are one interconnected machine – an evidently unconnected part can be affected negatively if another part quits working as it is supposed to. This is the situation with our hearts and ears. Case in point, hearing loss will happen when blood does not 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 scrambled. Individuals who have noticed some degree of hearing loss and who have a history of heart disease or diabetes in their families should contact both a cardiac and hearing specialist to find out whether the hearing loss is indeed triggered by a heart condition, since ignoring the symptoms could lead to serious, potentially fatal repercussions.
If you suffer from loss of hearing or are experiencing any of the negative effects outlined above, feel free to reach out to us so we can help you live a healthier life. Schedule your appointment now.