It’s an unfortunate 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, but since hearing loss is expected as we get older, many decide to leave it unchecked. Neglecting hearing loss, however, can have severe negative side effects on a person’s overall health beyond their inability to hear.
Why do many people choose to just live with hearing loss? According to an AARP study, More than half of seniors cited costs as the major worry while one third consider hearing loss as a minor 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 go up 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 tiredness to a number of other factors, like slowing down based on aging or a side-effect of medication. In truth, as your brain tries to compensate for sound it doesn’t hear, you’re left feeling depleted. Visualize a task where you need to be completely focused like taking the SAT test. You will most likely feel drained once you’re done. When you struggle to hear, the same thing happens: your brain is doing work to fill in the blanks you’re missing in conversations – and if there is a lot of background noise this is even more difficult – and as you attempt to process the conversation, you spend precious energy. This type of persistent fatigue can affect your health by leaving you too tired to take care of yourself, skipping out on things like cooking healthy meals or going to the gym.
Several studies by Johns Hopkins University linked hearing loss to , accelerated brain tissue loss, and dementia. Although these connections are correlations instead of causations, it’s believed by researchers that the more cognitive resources spent attempting to fill in the blanks of a conversation, the less the resources available for other things like comprehension and memory. And as people age, 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 slowed down and seniors can stay mentally tuned by the regular exchange of ideas through conversation. 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 conditions can be pinpointed and treatments can be formulated when cognitive and hearing specialist 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 paranoia, anxiety, and depression negatively impacted the emotional well being more often than those who don’t have hearing loss. Since difficulty communicating with others in family and social situations is common for those with hearing loss, the link between mental health issues and hearing loss makes sense. This can lead to feelings of isolation, which can eventually result in depression. If left untreated, anxiety and even paranoia can appear due to these feelings of loneliness and exclusion. It’s been demonstrated that recovery from depression is aided by wearing hearing aids. But a mental health professional should still be consulted if you suffer from paranoia, depression, or anxiety.
All the parts of our bodies are one interconnected machine – an evidently unconnected part can be affected negatively if a different part stops working as it should. This is the situation with our ears and hearts. As an example, when blood doesn’t flow easily from the heart to the inner ear, hearing loss will occur. 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 be scrambled. In order to determine whether hearing loss is caused by heart disease or diabetes, if you have a family history of those illnesses consult with both a hearing expert and a cardiac specialist because ignoring the symptoms can cause severe or even fatal consequences.
Please get in touch with us if you are experiencing any of the negative effects detailed above or if you have hearing loss so we can help you live a healthier life. Make your appointment for a hearing test.