It’s an unfortunate fact of life that loss of hearing is part of getting older. Roughly 38 million people in the US suffer from some form of hearing loss, but many people decide to simply neglect it because it’s a normal part of aging. Ignoring hearing loss, however, can have severe negative side effects on a person’s entire well-being 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 concern while one third regard hearing loss as a small issue that can be easily treated. However, those costs can increase astronomically when you take into account the significant side effects and conditions that are caused by neglecting hearing loss. Here are the most common negative effects of ignoring hearing loss.
Most people will not immediately connect the dots from fatigue to hearing loss. Alternatively, they will connect exhaustion to several different factors, such as slowing down based on aging or a side-effect of medication. The fact is that the less you can hear, the more your body works to make up for it, leaving you feeling exhausted. Imagine you are taking an exam such as the SAT where your brain is totally concentrated on processing the task at hand. After you’re done, you most likely feel exhausted. When you struggle to hear, the same thing occurs: during conversations, your brain is trying to fill in the blanks – which is generally made much more difficult when there is a lot of background noise – and as you try to process the conversation, you spend valuable energy. This type of persistent exhaustion can affect your health by leaving you too tired to take care of yourself, passing up on things like cooking healthy meals or going to the gym.
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 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 memory and comprehension. And as people get older, the greater draw on cognitive resources can speed up the decline of other brain functions and contribute to gray matter loss. Additionally, having a frequent exchange of ideas and information, often through conversation, is believed to help seniors stay mentally fit and can help slow the process of cognitive decline. The future for researchers is promising due to the discovery of a connection between the decline in cognitive function and loss of hearing, since cognitive and hearing experts can work together to determine the causes and develop 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 affected the emotional health more often than those who don’t have hearing loss. The link between hearing loss and mental health issues makes sense since people with loss of hearing often have trouble communicating with others in social or family scenarios. This can bring on depression after suffering from prolonged feelings of isolation. If left untreated, anxiety and even paranoia can surface due to these feelings of isolation and exclusion. It’s been demonstrated that recovery from depression is aided by wearing hearing aids. But a mental health professional should still be contacted if you have depression, anxiety, or paranoia.
All the different parts of our bodies are one interconnected machine – an evidently unconnected part can be affected negatively if another part quits functioning as it is supposed to. This is the case with our ears and hearts. For instance, hearing loss will take place when blood doesn’t flow freely from the heart to the inner ear. Diabetes, which is also associated with heart disease, can impact the inner ear’s nerve endings and scramble messages from the ear to the brain. In order to determine whether hearing loss 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 even fatal consequences.
If you suffer from hearing loss or are having 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.