It’s an unfortunate fact of life that hearing loss is part of getting older. Approximately 38 million people in the US have some form of hearing loss, but many people choose to simply neglect it because it’s a normal part of aging. Neglecting 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 problem that can be easily handled. When you factor in the conditions and serious side effects caused by neglecting hearing loss, however, the costs can rise dramatically. Here are the most prevalent negative effects of neglecting hearing loss.
Most people will not immediately connect the dots from fatigue to hearing loss. They are often in denial and will blame their fatigue on things like getting older or a side-effect of medication. The truth is that the less you are able to hear, the more your body works to compensate, leaving you feeling drained. Visualize a task where you have to be totally concentrated like taking the SAT test. You will most likely feel drained once you finish. When you struggle to hear, the same thing occurs: during conversations, your brain is trying to fill in the blanks – and when there is a lot of background noise this is even more difficult – and as you attempt to process the information, you deplete precious energy. Your overall health can be affected by this type of persistent exhaustion and you can be left so tired you keep yourself healthy, skipping out 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. Even though these links are correlations instead of causations, researchers think the more the blanks need to be filled in by the brain, the more the cognitive resources needed and the less there are to dedicate to other things like comprehension and memorization. And as people get older, the increased draw on cognitive resources can speed up the decline of other brain functions and contribute to gray matter loss. In addition, having a regular exchange of information and ideas, often through conversation, is thought to help senior citizens stay mentally fit and can help slow the process of cognitive decay. The discovery of a link between loss of hearing and a loss of cognitive functions is encouraging for future research since the causes of these ailments can be identified and treatments can be developed when cognitive and hearing 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 ignored their hearing problem had mental health troubles such as depression, anxiety, and paranoia, which negatively impacted their emotional and social well-being. 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 depression after suffering from persistent feelings of seclusion. If neglected, anxiety and even paranoia can appear due to these feelings of seclusion and exclusion. It’s been shown 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 could have a negative impact on another seemingly unrelated part. This is the situation with our ears and hearts. Case in point, hearing loss will happen when blood doesn’t flow freely from the heart to the inner ear. Another disease that can affect 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 get scrambled. People who have detected some amount of hearing loss and who have a history of heart disease or diabetes in their families should consult with 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 serious, possibly fatal consequences.
If you suffer from loss of hearing or are experiencing any of the negative effects listed above, feel free to contact us so we can help you live a healthier life. Make your appointment for a hearing test.