It’s an unfortunate truth that hearing loss is part of the aging process. Roughly 38 million people suffer from hearing loss in the United States, though many people decide to dismiss it because they think about it as just a part of aging. But beyond how well you hear, ignoring hearing loss can have serious adverse side effects.
Why do many people choose to simply live with hearing loss? According to an AARP study, hearing loss is, thought to be by a third of senior citizens, a concern that is minor and can be handled easily, while more than half of the respondents cited cost as a problem. The consequences of ignoring hearing loss, however, can become a great deal higher because of conditions and adverse reactions that come with ignoring it. Here are the most common adverse effects of neglecting hearing loss.
Most people will not immediately put two and two together from fatigue to hearing loss. They will say, rather, that they are slowing down due to the side-effects of a medication or because they’re getting older. But actually, if you have to work extra hard to hear, it can deplete your physical resources. Imagine you are taking a test such as the SAT where your brain is entirely focused on processing the task at hand. You would probably feel quite depleted after you’re finished. When you are struggling to hear, it’s a similar situation: your brain is working to fill in the blanks you’re missing in conversations – which, when there is enough background noise, is even more difficult – and uses up precious energy just trying to manage the conversation. Taking care of yourself requires energy which you won’t have with this kind of chronic exhaustion. To adapt, you will avoid life-essential routines such as working out or eating healthy.
Numerous studies conducted by Johns Hopkins University linked hearing loss to reduced cognitive functions , increased loss of brain tissue, and dementia. While these links are correlations, not causations, it’s theorized by researchers that, once again, the more often you need to fill in the conversational blanks, which uses up mental resources, the less there are to give attention to other things including comprehension and memorization. And decreasing brain function, as we age is, directly connected to an increased draw on our mental resources. Besides that, it’s believed that the process of mental decline can be slowed and mental fitness can be maintained by a continued exchange of ideas, usually through conversation. Fortunately, cognitive specialist and hearing specialist can use the recognized connection between mental decline and hearing loss to work together to undertake research and develop treatments that are promising in the near future.
Problems With Mental Health
The National Council on the Aging carried out a study of 2,300 senior citizens who were dealing with some form of hearing loss and discovered that individuals who left their condition untreated were more likely to also suffer from mental health issues like depression, anxiety, and paranoia, which negatively affected their social and emotional well-being. It makes sense that there is a link between mental health and hearing loss problems since people with hearing loss often have difficulty communicating with other people in social or family situations. Eventually, feelings of separation could develop into depression. If neglected, anxiety and even paranoia can appear due to these feelings of solitude and exclusion. If you are dealing with anxiety or depression, you should consult a mental health professional and you should also know that hearing aids have been shown to help people recover from some kinds of depression.
Our bodies are one coordinated machine – if one component stops working as it is supposed to, it could have a negative affect on another seemingly unrelated part. This is the situation with our hearts and ears. Case in point, hearing loss will happen when blood does not flow easily from the heart to the inner ear. Diabetes, which is also linked to heart disease, can impact the inner ear’s nerve endings and cause information sent to the brain from the ear to become scrambled. Individuals who have detected some amount of hearing loss and who have a history of diabetes or heart disease in their families should consult with both a hearing and cardiac specialist to ascertain whether the hearing loss is indeed caused by a heart condition, since ignoring the symptoms could lead to serious, possibly fatal consequences.
If you suffer from hearing loss or are experiencing any of the negative repercussions listed above, please reach out to us so we can help you have a healthier life.