Loss of hearing is a normal part of the aging process, unfortunately. Approximately 38 million people in the United States suffer from some form of hearing loss, but many people choose to just neglect it because it’s a normal part of aging. However, beyond a person’s ability to hear, their whole health can be negatively affected if they ignore their hearing loss.
Why do so many people decide to simply live with hearing loss? According to an AARP study, more than one-third of senior citizens consider hearing loss to be a minor problem that can be handled easily enough, while more than half of the respondents cited cost as a worry. However, those costs can rise astronomically when you take into account the significant side effects and ailments that are brought on 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. Alternatively, they will attribute tiredness to several different factors, such as slowing down due to getting older or a side-effect of medication. In actuality, as your brain attempts to compensate for sound it can’t hear, you’re left feeling exhausted. Imagine you are taking an exam like the SAT where your brain is completely concentrated on processing the task at hand. You will most likely feel exhausted once you’re done. When you struggle to hear, the same thing occurs: when having conversations, your brain is working to fill in the blanks – which is generally made even harder when there is a lot of background noise – and burns valuable energy just attempting to digest the discussion. This type of chronic fatigue can impact your health by leaving you too run down to keep yourself healthy, leaving things like going to the gym or cooking healthy meals hard to accomplish.
Johns Hopkins University conducted a study that linked hearing loss to , accelerated brain tissue loss, and dementia. While these connections are not direct causations, they are correlations, researchers think that the more cognitive resources expended trying to fill in the blanks of a conversation, the less the resources available for other things like memory and comprehension. The decrease of brain function is accelerated and there is a loss of grey matter with the additional draw on cognitive ability that comes with aging. Also, having a frequent exchange of information and ideas, often through conversation, is thought to help seniors stay mentally fit and can help slow the process of cognitive decline. The discovery of a link between hearing loss and a loss of cognitive functions is encouraging for future research since the causes of these ailments can be determined and treatment options can be formulated when hearing and cognitive specialist team up.
Issues With Your Mental Health
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. Since difficulty communicating with others in social and family situations is normal for those with hearing loss, the link between mental health problems and hearing loss makes sense. This can lead to feelings of seclusion, which can eventually result in depression. If left untreated, anxiety and even paranoia can appear due to these feelings of loneliness and exclusion. It’s been shown 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.
All the parts of our bodies are one interconnected machine – an evidently unconnected part can be affected negatively if a different part quits 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 happen. Diabetes, which is also linked to heart disease, can affect the inner ear’s nerve endings and cause messages sent from the ear to the brain to become scrambled. Individuals who have noticed some level of hearing loss and who have a history of heart disease or diabetes in their families should seek advice from both a hearing and cardiac specialist to determine whether the hearing loss is indeed triggered by a heart condition, since neglecting the symptoms could lead to serious, potentially fatal consequences.
If you suffer from loss of hearing or are experiencing any of the negative effects outlined above, feel free to contact us so we can help you live a healthier life. Make your appointment for a hearing test.