It’s a regrettable truth that hearing loss is part of the aging process. Approximately 38 million people in the U.S. suffer from some form of hearing loss, though because hearing loss is anticipated as we age, many decide to leave it unchecked. Ignoring hearing loss, however, can have major adverse side effects on a person’s whole well-being beyond how well they hear.
Why do so many people choose to simply deal with hearing loss? Based on an AARP study, more than one-third of senior citizens think of hearing loss as a minor issue that can be managed easily enough, while price was a worry for more than half of those who took part in the study. The costs of ignoring hearing loss, though, can be a lot higher because of conditions and adverse reactions that come with ignoring it. Here are the most prevalent negative consequences of ignoring hearing loss.
The dots will not be connected by most people from fatigue to hearing loss. Instead, they will attribute fatigue to several different factors, such as slowing down because of aging or a side-effect of medication. But in reality, if you need to work harder to hear, it can drain your physical resources. Think about taking a test such as the SAT where your brain is entirely focused on processing the task in front of you. You would most likely feel quite drained after you’re finished. The same thing occurs when you struggle to hear: your brain is working to fill in the blanks you’re missing in conversations – which is often made even harder when there’s a lot of background noise – and just attempting to process information uses valuable energy. This kind of chronic exhaustion can impact your health by leaving you too tired to care for yourself, cutting out things like working out or cooking healthy meals.
Decline of Brain Function
Hearing loss has been connected, by several Johns Hopkins University studies, to diminishe cognitive functions , increased loss of brain tissue, and dementia. While these connections are correlations, not causations, researchers think that, again, the more frequently you need to fill in the conversational blanks, which uses up mental resources, the less you have to focus on other things including memorization and comprehension. And declining brain function, as we get older is, directly connected to an increased draw on our mental resources. In addition, having a routine exchange of information and ideas, often through conversation, is thought to help seniors stay mentally fit and can help slow the process of mental decline. The fact that a connection between cognitive function and hearing loss was found is encouraging for future research since hearing and cognitive specialists can collaborate to pinpoint the factors and develop treatments for these ailments.
Mental Health Problems
The National Council on the Aging carried out a study of 2,300 seniors who were dealing with some form of hearing loss and found that people who left their condition untreated were more likely to also suffer from mental health problems like depression, anxiety, and paranoia, which negatively affected their emotional and social happiness. The connection between mental health issues and hearing loss seems logical since people who suffer from hearing loss often have difficulty communicating with other people in family or social situations. Eventually, feelings of separation could become depression. If left untreated, anxiety and even paranoia can surface as a result of these feelings of separation and exclusion. If you suffer from anxiety or depression, you need to contact a mental health professional and you also should know that hearing aids have been proven to help people recover from some forms of depression.
If one part of your body, which is a coordinated machine, stops functioning correctly, it might have an impact on apparently unrelated bodily functions. This is the situation with our hearts and ears. As a case in point, if blood flow from the heart to the inner ear is constrained, hearing loss could be the result. Diabetes, which is also connected to heart disease, can affect the inner ear’s nerve endings and cause messages sent to the brain from the ear to become scrambled. If heart disease is ignored severe or even possibly fatal consequences can happen. So if you have noticed some hearing loss and have a history of diabetes or heart disease in your family you should consult both a hearing and a cardiac specialist so that you can figure out whether your hearing loss is linked to a heart condition.
If you have hearing loss or are going through any of the negative repercussions listed above, please contact us for a consultation so we can help you have a healthier life.