Loss of hearing is a normal part of the aging process, unfortunately. Roughly 38 million people suffer from some kind of hearing loss in the United States, but a lot of people decide to simply neglect it because it’s a normal part of getting older. Neglecting hearing loss, however, can have severe negative side effects on a person’s entire health beyond their inability to hear.
Why do so many people decide to just live with hearing loss? According to an AARP study, More than half of seniors cited costs as the major concern while one third regard hearing loss as a small issue that can be easily treated. However, those costs can rise astronomically when you factor in the serious side effects and conditions that are caused by neglecting hearing loss. 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 fatigue to several different factors, like slowing down due to getting older or a side-effect of medication. The fact is that the less you are able to hear, the more your body works to make up for it, leaving you feeling exhausted. Visualize a task where you have to be completely concentrated like taking the SAT test. You will probably feel exhausted once you finish. The same thing happens 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 more difficult when there is a lot of background sound – and as you attempt to process the information, you deplete precious energy. This type of chronic fatigue can impact 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. Even though these connections 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 you’ll have to focus on other things such as memorization and comprehension. And as people age, the greater drain on cognitive resources can accelerate the decrease of other brain functions and contribute to gray matter loss. Also, having a regular exchange of information and ideas, often through conversation, is believed to help seniors stay mentally tuned and can help reduce the process of cognitive decline. The discovery of a link between loss of hearing and a decline in cognitive functions is promising for future research since hearing and cognitive experts can team up to determine the causes and formulate treatments for these conditions.
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 affected the emotional well being 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 issues and hearing loss seems logical. This can lead to feelings of seclusion, 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 assisted by hearing aids. But a mental health professional should still be contacted if you have depression, anxiety, or paranoia.
All the parts of our bodies are one interconnected machine – an apparently unconnected part can be affected negatively if another part quits working as it is supposed to. 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, loss of hearing will happen. Diabetes, which is also associated with heart disease, can impact the inner ear’s nerve endings and cause messages sent from the ear to the brain to become 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 both a hearing expert and a cardiac specialist because ignoring the symptoms can result in serious or possibly even fatal repercussions.
Please contact us if you are having any of the negative effects detailed above or if you have hearing loss so we can help you live a healthier life. Schedule your appointment now.