It’s an unfortunate fact of life that hearing loss is part of getting older. Roughly 38 million people in the US have some form of hearing loss, though since hearing loss is expected as we age, many people choose to leave it unchecked. Ignoring hearing loss, however, can have serious negative side effects on a person’s entire health beyond their inability to hear.
Why do so many people choose to simply live with 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 neglecting hearing loss, however, the costs can go up astronomically. Ignoring 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 other factors, like slowing down based on aging or a side-effect of medication. In truth, as your brain tries to make up for sound it doesn’t hear, you’re left feeling depleted. Imagine you are taking an exam such as the SAT where your brain is completely concentrated on processing the task at hand. You will probably feel depleted once you finish. When you struggle to hear, the same thing occurs: your brain is working to fill in the blanks you’re missing in conversations – and when there is a lot of background sound this is even more overwhelming – and as you attempt to process the information, you use up precious energy. Your overall health can be affected by this type of chronic exhaustion and you can be left so tired you keep yourself healthy, passing up 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. Even though these connections are correlations instead of causations, 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 there are to dedicate to other things like memorization and comprehension. And as people get older, the increased drain on cognitive resources can speed up 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 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 promising for future research since hearing and cognitive specialists can work together to pinpoint the causes and formulate treatments for these ailments.
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 difficulty communicating with others in social and family situations is common for those with hearing loss, the link between mental health problems and hearing loss makes sense. This can lead to depression after suffering from prolonged feelings of isolation. Due to these feelings of exclusion and isolation, anxiety and even paranoia can be the result, specifically if left untreated. Hearing aids have been shown to assist in the recovery from depression, though anyone suffering from depression, anxiety, or paranoia should consult with a mental health professional.
Our bodies are one interconnected machine – if one part stops functioning as it should, it could have a negative impact on another seemingly unrelated part. 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, loss of hearing will happen. Diabetes, which is also associated with heart disease, can impact the inner ear’s nerve endings and scramble messages from the ear to the brain. In order to determine whether loss of hearing 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 result in serious or even fatal repercussions.
If you suffer from hearing loss or are experiencing any of the negative effects outlined above, please contact us so we can help you live a healthier life. Schedule your appointment now.