Hearing loss is a normal part of the aging process, unfortunately. Roughly 38 million people suffer from some kind of hearing loss in the United States, but a lot of people decide to just neglect it because it’s a normal part of getting older. However, beyond a person’s ability to hear, their overall life can be negatively affected if they ignore their hearing loss.
Why do so many people choose 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 minor issue that can be easily handled. When you factor in the conditions and significant side effects caused by ignoring hearing loss, however, the costs can go up astronomically. 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 attribute exhaustion to several other factors, like slowing down due to getting older or a side-effect of medication. In reality, as your brain tries to compensate for sound it doesn’t hear, you’re left feeling fatigued. Imagine you are taking a test like the SAT where your brain is totally focused on processing the task at hand. You will likely feel depleted once you finish. When you struggle to hear, the same thing happens: your brain is working to fill in the blanks you’re missing in conversations – and if there is a lot of background noise this is even more difficult – and burns precious energy just attempting to digest the discussion. 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, passing up on things like going to the gym or cooking healthy meals.
Several studies by Johns Hopkins University linked hearing loss to , accelerated brain tissue loss, and dementia. Although these connections are correlations instead of causations, it’s believed by researchers the more the blanks need to be filled in by the brain, the more the cognitive resources needed and 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 additional draw on cognitive capacity that comes with getting older. The process of cognitive decline can be slowed down and seniors can stay mentally tuned by the regular exchange of ideas through conversation. The future for researchers is encouraging due to the discovery of a connection between the decrease in cognitive function and hearing loss, since the causes of these ailments can be determined and treatments can be formulated when cognitive and hearing experts work together.
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 paranoia, anxiety, and depression negatively affected the emotional health more often than those who don’t have hearing loss. The connection between loss of hearing and mental health problems makes sense since those with loss of hearing often have difficulty communicating with others in social or family situations. This can result in depression after suffering from persistent feelings of seclusion. If left untreated, anxiety and even paranoia can surface due to these feelings of loneliness and exclusion. It’s been demonstrated that recovery from depression is assisted by hearing aids. But a mental health professional should still be contacted if you have depression, anxiety, or paranoia.
Our bodies are one interconnected machine – if one part stops functioning the way it’s supposed to, it might have a negative effect on another seemingly unrelated part. This is the case with our ears and hearts. As an example, when blood doesn’t flow easily from the heart to the inner ear, loss of hearing will happen. Diabetes, which is also connected to heart disease, can affect the inner ear’s nerve endings and cause messages sent from the ear to the brain to become scrambled. In order to find out whether loss of hearing is caused by heart disease or diabetes, if you have a family history of those illnesses contact both a hearing expert and a cardiac specialist because ignoring the symptoms can result in severe or possibly even fatal repercussions.
If you suffer from loss of hearing or are experiencing any of the negative effects listed above, feel free to reach out to us so we can help you live a healthier life. Make your appointment for a hearing test.