It’s a regrettable fact of life that hearing loss is part of getting older. Roughly 38 million people in the United States have some form of hearing loss, but since hearing loss is expected as we get older, many decide to ignore it. However, beyond a person’s ability to hear, their overall life can be negatively impacted 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 worry while one third consider hearing loss as a small issue that can be easily treated. When you consider the conditions and significant side effects caused by ignoring hearing loss, however, the costs can rise dramatically. 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 fatigue to several different factors, such as slowing down based on getting older or a side-effect of medication. In truth, as your brain attempts to compensate for sound it doesn’t hear, you’re left feeling drained. Imagine you are taking a test like the SAT where your brain is completely concentrated on processing the task at hand. Once you’re finished, you probably feel exhausted. The same thing happens when you struggle to hear: your brain is working to fill in the blanks you’re missing in conversations – which is often made even harder when there is a lot of background noise – and spends precious energy just trying to digest the conversation. Your overall health can be affected by this type of chronic exhaustion and you can be left so tired you keep yourself healthy, 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. Even though these connections 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 additional draw 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 delayed and senior citizens can stay mentally fit by the regular exchange of ideas through conversation. The discovery of a link between hearing loss and a loss of cognitive functions is promising for future research since the causes of these conditions can be pinpointed and treatments can be formulated when hearing and cognitive experts work together.
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 health more often than those who don’t have hearing loss. Since problems communicating with others in family and social situations is typical for those with hearing loss, the connection between mental health issues and hearing loss makes sense. This can bring on depression after suffering from persistent feelings of isolation. If left untreated, anxiety and even paranoia can appear due to these feelings of loneliness and exclusion. Hearing aids have been proven to assist in the recovery from depression, though anyone who has depression, anxiety, or paranoia should seek advice from with a mental health professional.
Our bodies are one interconnected machine – if one part stops working as it should, it could have a negative impact on another apparently unrelated part. 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. Another disease that can impact the inner ear’s nerve ending, and is also connected to heart disease is diabetes which causes messages from the ear to the brain to become scrambled. Those who have detected some degree of hearing loss and who have a history of heart disease or diabetes in their families should contact both a cardiac and hearing specialist to determine whether the hearing loss is indeed triggered by a heart condition, since neglecting the symptoms could lead to severe, possibly fatal repercussions.
If you have loss of hearing 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. Make your appointment for a hearing test.