Hearing loss is a normal part of getting older, unfortunately. Roughly 38 million people suffer from some kind of hearing loss in the United States, but many people decide to just neglect it because it’s a normal part of getting older. Neglecting hearing loss, however, can have severe negative side effects on a person’s entire health beyond their inability to hear.
Why do so many people refuse to get 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 minor problem that can be easily treated. When you factor in the conditions and significant side effects caused by ignoring hearing loss, however, the costs can go up dramatically. Neglecting 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 aging or a side-effect of medication. In reality, as your brain attempts to compensate for sound it doesn’t hear, you’re left feeling depleted. Imagine you are taking a test such as the SAT where your brain is totally focused on processing the task at hand. After you’re done, you probably feel exhausted. When you struggle to hear, the same thing occurs: your brain is working to fill in the blanks you’re missing in conversations – and when there is a lot of background sound this is even more difficult – and as you try to process the conversation, you use up valuable energy. Your overall health can be impacted by this type of persistent exhaustion and you can be left so tired you 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. Although these connections are not direct causations, they are correlations, researchers believe the more the blanks need to be filled in by the brain, the more the cognitive resources needed and the less the resources available for other things such as comprehension and memory. The decline of brain function is sped up and there is a loss of grey matter with the increased draw on cognitive capacity that comes with getting older. Additionally, having a frequent exchange of information and ideas, often through conversation, is believed to help seniors stay mentally fit and can help delay the process of cognitive decay. The discovery of a link between hearing loss and a decline in cognitive functions is promising for future research since the causes of these ailments can be pinpointed and treatment options can be developed when hearing and cognitive specialist 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 those who neglected their hearing condition had mental health troubles like depression, anxiety, and paranoia, which negatively affected their social and emotional well-being. The link between loss of hearing and mental health problems makes sense since those with loss of hearing commonly have trouble communicating with others in family or social scenarios. This can result in depression after suffering from prolonged feelings of seclusion. Because of these feelings of exclusion and solitude, anxiety and even paranoia can be the result, particularly if left untreated. Hearing aids have been proven 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 parts of our bodies are one interconnected machine – an apparently unconnected part can be affected negatively if a different part stops working as it should. 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, hearing loss will occur. Another disease that can affect 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 be mixed up. In order to determine whether loss of hearing is caused by heart disease or diabetes, if you have a family history of those illnesses consult with both a hearing expert and a cardiac specialist because neglecting the symptoms can lead to severe or even fatal consequences.
Please contact us if you are having any of the negative effects outlined above or if you have hearing loss so we can help you live a healthier life. Schedule your appointment now.