It’s an unfortunate fact of life that hearing loss is part of the aging process. Roughly 38 million people in the United States have some form of hearing loss, but many people choose to just ignore it because it’s a normal part of aging. However, beyond a person’s ability to hear, their overall health can be negatively affected if they ignore their hearing loss.
Why do so many people resist getting help for their hearing loss? According to an AARP study, More than half of senior citizens cited costs as the major concern while one third consider hearing loss as a minor issue that can be easily handled. However, those costs can increase astronomically when you factor in the significant side effects and conditions that are triggered 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 tiredness to several different factors, like slowing down based on getting older or a side-effect of medication. The fact is that the less you are able to hear, the more your body works to make up for it, leaving you feeling tired. Imagine you are taking an exam such as the SAT where your brain is totally focused on processing the task at hand. When you’re done, you likely feel exhausted. When you struggle to hear, the same thing occurs: your brain is doing work to fill in the blanks you’re missing in conversations – which is often made much harder when there is a lot of background noise – and as you attempt to process the conversation, you use up precious energy. This type of chronic exhaustion can affect your health by leaving you too tired to keep yourself healthy, skipping out on things like cooking healthy meals or going to the gym.
Several studies by Johns Hopkins University linked hearing loss to , accelerated brain tissue loss, and dementia. While these links are not direct causations, they are correlations, researchers think the more the blanks need to be filled in by the brain, the more the cognitive resources needed and the less there are to focus on other things like comprehension and memorization. And as people get older, the increased drain on cognitive resources can speed up the decrease of other brain functions and contribute to gray matter loss. The process of cognitive decline can be slowed and seniors can stay mentally fit by the regular exchange of ideas through conversation. The discovery of a link between hearing loss and a decline in cognitive functions is encouraging for future research since cognitive and hearing specialists can work together to determine the causes and formulate treatments for these ailments.
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 impacted the emotional well being more often than those who don’t have hearing loss. The link between hearing loss and mental health issues makes sense since people with hearing loss often have difficulty communicating with others in family or social situations. This can bring on depression after suffering from persistent feelings of seclusion. Because of these feelings of exclusion and isolation, anxiety and even paranoia can be the consequence, especially if left untreated. Hearing aids have been shown to aid in the recovery from depression, though anyone who has depression, anxiety, or paranoia should seek advice from with a mental health professional.
All the parts of our bodies are one interconnected machine – an apparently unconnected part can be impacted negatively if another part stops functioning as it is supposed to. This is the situation with our hearts and ears. Case in point, hearing loss will take place when blood doesn’t flow easily from the heart to the inner ear. Diabetes, which is also connected to heart disease, can impact the inner ear’s nerve endings and scramble messages from the ear to the brain. 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 reach out to us if you are having any of the negative effects listed above or if you suffer from loss of hearing so we can help you live a healthier life. Schedule your appointment now.