It’s an unfortunate fact of life that loss of hearing is part of the aging process. Approximately 38 million people suffer from some kind of hearing loss in the United States, but a lot of people choose to simply ignore it because it’s a normal part of aging. Ignoring hearing loss, however, can have severe negative side effects on a person’s overall health beyond their inability to hear.
Why do so many people choose to just live with hearing loss? According to an AARP study, more than one-third of senior citizens think of hearing loss as a minor issue that can be dealt with easily enough, while more than half of the participants cited cost as a worry. However, those costs can increase astronomically when you take into account the serious side effects and ailments that are triggered by ignoring 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 connect exhaustion to a number of different factors, such as slowing down due to aging 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 exhausted. Visualize a task where you need to be totally focused like taking the SAT exam. You will probably feel depleted once you finish. When you struggle to hear, the same thing occurs: when having conversations, your brain is working to fill in the blanks – and when there is a lot of background sound this is even more difficult – and as you attempt to process the conversation, you deplete valuable energy. Your overall health can be affected by this type of persistent fatigue and you can be left so tired you keep yourself healthy, skipping out on things like going to the gym or cooking healthy meals.
Several studies by Johns Hopkins University linked hearing loss to , accelerated brain tissue loss, and dementia. While these links are not direct causations, they are correlations, it’s thought by researchers 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 like comprehension and memory. The decline of brain function is accelerated 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 future for researchers is encouraging due to the discovery of a connection between the decrease in cognitive function and loss of hearing, since the causes of these conditions can be pinpointed and treatments can be developed when cognitive and hearing specialist 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 trouble communicating with others in social and family situations is normal for those with hearing loss, the link between mental health problems and hearing loss seems logical. This can lead to feelings of seclusion, which can eventually lead to depression. If left untreated, anxiety and even paranoia can appear due to these feelings of loneliness and exclusion. Hearing aids have been shown to help in the recovery from depression, however, anyone who has depression, anxiety, or paranoia should consult with a mental health professional.
All the different parts of our bodies are one interconnected machine – an apparently unconnected part can be impacted negatively if another part stops functioning as it should. This is the case with our hearts and ears. As an example, when blood doesn’t flow freely 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 scramble messages from the ear to the brain. In order to ascertain 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 cause serious or even fatal consequences.
Please reach out to us if you are experiencing any of the negative effects detailed above or if you suffer from hearing loss so we can help you live a healthier life. Make your appointment for a hearing test.