The regrettable truth is, as you age, your hearing begins to fail. Roughly 38 million people in the U.S. deal with some form of hearing loss, though because hearing loss is anticipated as we get older, many decide to leave it unchecked. Ignoring hearing loss, though, can have major negative side effects on a person’s entire well-being beyond their inability to hear.
Why do so many people decide to just deal with hearing loss? According to an AARP study, hearing loss is, according to a third of senior citizens, a concern that’s minimal and can be dealt with easily, while greater than half of the participants cited cost as a concern. But, those costs can increase incredibly when you factor in the significant adverse reactions and conditions that are triggered by neglecting hearing loss. Here are the most likely negative effects of ignoring hearing loss.
The dots will not be connected by most people from fatigue to hearing loss. Instead, they will blame their fatigue on several different ideas, like slowing down due to aging or a side-effect of medication. The truth is that the less you can hear, the more your body works to compensate for it, leaving you feeling tired. Remember how tired you were at times in your life when your brain needed to be totally focused on a task for extended periods of time. You would probably feel really drained after you’re finished. When you are struggling to hear, it’s a similar situation: when there are missing spots in conversation, your brain needs to work extra hard to substitute the missing information – which is usually made even harder when there’s lots of background noise – and consumes precious energy just attempting to manage the conversation. Taking care of yourself takes energy that you won’t have with this type of chronic exhaustion. To adapt, you will avoid life-essential routines such as working out or eating healthy.
Countless studies by Johns Hopkins University connected hearing loss to decreased cognitive functions , accelerated brain tissue loss, and dementia. While these links are correlations, not causations, researchers think that, again, the more frequently you need to fill in the conversational blanks, which uses up cognitive resources, the less there are to give attention to other things like memorization and comprehension. And as people age, the increased draw on mental resources can accelerate the decline of other brain functions and can lead to gray matter loss. In addition, engaging in a routine exchange of ideas and information, often through conversation, is believed to help seniors stay mentally fit and can help delay the process of cognitive decline. Fortunately, cognitive specialist and hearing specialist can use the recognized connection between mental decline and hearing loss to work together to undertake research and establish treatments that are promising in the near future.
Mental Health Problems
The National Council on the Aging carried out a study of 2,300 seniors who were dealing with some form of hearing loss and found that individuals who left their condition untreated were more likely to also be dealing with mental health problems including depression, anxiety, and paranoia, which negatively affected their social and emotional happiness. The link between mental health issues and hearing loss makes sense since people with hearing loss frequently have difficulty communicating with others in social or family situations. This can lead to feelings of isolation, which can ultimately lead to depression. If neglected, anxiety and even paranoia can surface as a result of these feelings of solitude and exclusion. Hearing aids have been shown to aid in the recovery from depression, though anybody suffering from depression, anxiety, or paranoia should contact a mental health professional.
Our bodies are one coordinated machine – if one component stops functioning as it is supposed to, it could have a negative affect on another seemingly unrelated part. This is the case with our hearts and ears. As a case in point, if blood flow from the heart to the inner ear is restricted, hearing loss could happen. Another condition linked to heart disease is diabetes which also has an effect on the nerve endings of the inner ear and sometimes causes the brain to get scrambled signals. People who have detected some degree of hearing loss and who have a history of diabetes or heart disease in their families should consult with both a hearing and cardiac specialist to determine whether the hearing loss is actually caused by a heart condition, since neglecting the symptoms could lead to serious, possibly fatal consequences.
If you want to begin living a healthier life, contact us so we can help you address any adverse effects of hearing loss that you might suffer.