The regrettable truth is, as you age, your hearing starts to go. Roughly 38 million people in the U.S. deal with some form of hearing loss, but since hearing loss is expected as we get older, many decide to just deal with it. Disregarding hearing loss, however, can have major adverse side effects on a person’s entire well-being beyond their inability to hear.
Why is the decision to just ignore hearing loss one that many people choose? According to an AARP study, hearing loss is, according to a third of senior citizens, a concern that is minimal and can be handled easily, while more than half of the participants reported cost as a concern. However, those costs can rise incredibly when you take into account the serious adverse reactions and conditions that are brought on by ignoring hearing loss. Here are the most common adverse consequences of ignoring hearing loss.
The dots will not be connected by most people from fatigue to hearing loss. They will say, rather, that they are slowing down due to the side-effects of a medication or because they’re getting older. The truth is that the less you’re able to hear, the more your body struggles to make up for it, leaving you feeling exhausted. Recall how tired you were at times in your life when your brain needed to be totally focused on a task for long periods of time. You would most likely feel quite depleted when you’re done. The same situation takes place when you struggle to hear: when there are missing spots in conversation, your brain needs to work extra hard to substitute the missing information – which, when there is enough background noise, is even more difficult – and uses up precious energy just trying to process the conversation. This type of chronic exhaustion can impact your health by leaving you too tired to take care of yourself, cutting out things like working out or cooking wholesome meals.
Hearing loss has been linked, by several Johns Hopkins University studies, to decreased brain functions , increased loss of brain tissue, and dementia. While these links are correlations, instead of causations, it’s theorized by researchers that, again, the more often you need to fill in the conversational blanks, which consumes mental resources, the less there are to give attention to other things including comprehension and memorization. And decreasing brain function, as we age is, directly linked to an additional draw on our mental resources. Moreover, it’s believed that the process of mental decline can be slowed and mental fitness can be maintained by sustained exchange of ideas, normally through conversation. Luckily, cognitive specialist and hearing specialist can use the recognized connection between cognitive decline and hearing loss to work together to carry out research and develop treatments that are encouraging in the near future.
Mental Health Problems
The National Council on the Aging performed a study of 2,300 senior citizens who were dealing with some form of hearing loss and discovered that those who neglected their condition were more likely to also be dealing with mental health issues like depression, anxiety, and paranoia, which negatively impacted their emotional and social happiness. It makes sense that there is a link between mental health and hearing loss issues since, in family and social situations, people who suffer from hearing loss have a hard time communicating with others. This can result in feelings of isolation, which can eventually result in depression. If neglected, anxiety and even paranoia can surface due to these feelings of solitude and exclusion. If you are dealing with anxiety or depression, you should consult a mental health professional and you should also know that hearing aids have been proven to help people recover from some kinds of depression.
Our bodies are one interconnected machine – if one part stops working like it should, it could have a detrimental affect on another apparently unrelated part. This is the case with our hearts and ears. For instance, hearing loss will occur when blood doesn’t flow easily from the heart to the inner ear. Diabetes, which is also connected to heart disease, can affect the inner ear’s nerve endings and cause messages sent from the ear to the brain to get scrambled. People who have detected some degree of hearing loss and who have a history of heart disease or diabetes in their families should contact both a hearing and cardiac specialist to ascertain whether the hearing loss is indeed caused by a heart condition, since neglecting the symptoms might lead to severe, possibly fatal consequences.
If you want to start living a healthier life, reach out to us so we can help you address any negative effects of hearing loss that you might suffer.