It’s a regrettable fact of life that loss of hearing is part of getting older. Approximately 38 million people in the US have some form of hearing loss, though since hearing loss is expected as we get older, many people choose to leave it unchecked. However, beyond a person’s ability to hear, their overall life can be negatively affected if they ignore their hearing loss.
Why do many people choose to simply live with hearing loss? According to an AARP study, more than one-third of seniors consider hearing loss to be a minor problem that can be handled easily enough, while more than half of the participants cited cost as a worry. When you factor in the conditions and serious side effects caused by neglecting hearing loss, however, the costs can go up astronomically. 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 attribute exhaustion to several different factors, such as slowing down based on getting older or a side-effect of medication. The reality is that the less you can hear, the more your body works to compensate, leaving you feeling exhausted. Imagine you are taking an exam like the SAT where your brain is totally focused on processing the task at hand. You will most likely feel drained once you’re done. The same thing occurs when you struggle to hear: your brain is doing work to fill in the blanks you’re missing in conversations – which is generally made much harder when there is a lot of background noise – and spends precious energy just attempting to process the conversation. This type of chronic fatigue can impact your health by leaving you too tired to take care of yourself, leaving things like cooking healthy meals or going to the gym hard to accomplish.
Johns Hopkins University conducted a study that linked hearing loss to , accelerated brain tissue loss, and dementia. Although these connections are correlations instead of causations, it’s thought by researchers that the more cognitive resources expended trying to fill in the blanks of a conversation, the less you’ll have to dedicate to other things like memorization and comprehension. The decline of brain function is sped up and there is a loss of grey matter with the additional draw on cognitive capacity that comes with aging. The process of cognitive decline can be slowed and senior citizens can stay mentally tuned by the regular exchange of ideas through conversation. The fact that a link was discovered between loss of hearing and a loss of cognitive functions is promising for future research since the causes of these ailments can be determined and treatments can be formulated when hearing and cognitive experts team up.
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 people who neglected their hearing problem had mental health troubles such as depression, anxiety, and paranoia, which negatively affected their emotional and social well-being. The link between loss of hearing and mental health problems makes sense since those with hearing loss often have trouble communicating with others in social or family scenarios. This can cause feelings of isolation, which can eventually lead to depression. Because of these feelings of exclusion and isolation, anxiety and even paranoia can be the result, especially if neglected. 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 suffer from paranoia, depression, or anxiety.
Our bodies are one interconnected machine – if one part quits working the way it’s supposed to, it might have a negative effect on another apparently unrelated part. This is the case with our hearts and ears. As an example, when blood doesn’t flow easily from the heart to the inner ear, loss of hearing will occur. Diabetes, which is also linked to heart disease, can affect 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 neglecting the symptoms can lead to severe or possibly even fatal repercussions.
If you have hearing loss or are experiencing any of the negative effects listed above, please reach out to us so we can help you live a healthier life. Make your appointment for a hearing test.