It’s an unfortunate fact of life that hearing loss is part of the aging process. Roughly 38 million individuals in the United States suffer from some form of hearing loss, but because hearing loss is anticipated as we age, many people decide to just deal with it. But beyond the ability to hear, ignoring hearing loss will have serious adverse side effects.
Why is the decision to simply live with hearing loss one that many people consider? According to an AARP study, more than one-third of senior citizens consider hearing loss to be a minor problem that can be handled easily enough, while price was a concern for more than half of individuals who participated in the study. But, those costs can go up astronomically when you factor in the significant adverse reactions and ailments that are brought on by neglecting hearing loss. Here are the most common negative consequences of neglecting hearing loss.
The majority of people will not instantly connect the dots from fatigue to hearing loss. They will say, instead, that they are slowing down due to the side-effects of a medication or because they’re getting older. The reality is that the less you can hear, the more your body works to compensate for it, leaving you feeling tired. Imagine you are taking a test like the SAT where your brain is entirely focused on processing the task in front of you. You would most likely feel fairly depleted after you’re finished. The same situation occurs when you struggle to hear: when there are blanks spots in conversation, your brain needs to work hard to fill in the missing information – which is usually made even more difficult when there’s lots of background noise – and just attempting to process information consumes valuable energy. Looking after yourself takes energy which you won’t have with this kind of chronic exhaustion. To adjust, you will skip life-essential activities such as working out or eating healthy.
Several studies by Johns Hopkins University connected hearing loss to reduced brain functions , increased loss of brain tissue, and dementia. While these connections are correlations, instead of causations, it’s theorized by researchers that, once again, the more cognitive resources that are spent attempting to fill in the blanks of a conversation, the less there are to give attention to other things like comprehension and memorization. And declining brain function, as we age is, directly connected to an additional draw on our cognitive resources. Additionally, having a routine exchange of ideas and information, usually through conversation, is believed to help seniors remain mentally fit and can help delay the process of mental decline. The fact that a connection was discovered between hearing loss and a decline in cognitive functions is promising for future research since hearing and cognitive specialists can collaborate to narrow down the causes and develop treatment options for these ailments.
Mental Health Problems
The National Council on the Aging performed a study of 2,300 seniors who suffered some form of hearing loss and discovered that those who neglected their condition were more likely to also be dealing with mental health problems such as depression, anxiety, and paranoia, which negatively affected their emotional and social well-being. The connection between mental health issues and hearing loss seems logical since, in family and social situations, individuals who cope with hearing loss have a hard time communicating with others. This can lead to feelings of isolation, which can ultimately lead to depression. Feelings of exclusion and separation can worsen to anxiety and even paranoia if neglected. If you are dealing with anxiety or depression, you need to talk to a mental health professional and you also should be aware that hearing aids have been proven to help people recover from some kinds of depression.
Our bodies are one interconnected machine – if one component stops functioning as it is supposed to, it might have a detrimental affect on another apparently unrelated part. This is the situation with our hearts and ears. Case in point, hearing loss will occur when blood doesn’t easily flow from the heart to the inner ear. Diabetes, which is also linked to heart disease, can affect the inner ear’s nerve endings and cause information sent from the ear to the brain to become scrambled. If heart disease is neglected severe or even potentially fatal consequences can happen. So if you have noticed some hearing loss and you 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 connected to a heart condition.
If you want to start living a healthier life, reach out to us so we can help you solve any negative effects of hearing loss that you may suffer.