Man with cardiac condition also suffering from hearing loss.

Loss of hearing is a normal part of the aging process, unfortunately. Roughly 38 million people in the US suffer from some form of hearing loss, but because hearing loss is expected as we age, many people decide to ignore it. Neglecting 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 refuse to get help for their hearing loss? According to an AARP study, more than one-third of seniors think of hearing loss as a minor problem that can be handled easily enough, while more than half of the participants cited cost as a concern. When you consider the conditions and serious side effects caused by ignoring hearing loss, however, the costs can increase astronomically. Neglecting hearing loss has the following negative side effects.

Fatigue

Most people will not immediately connect the dots from fatigue to hearing loss. They are commonly in denial and will blame their fatigue on things like getting older or a side-effect of medication. In reality, as your brain tries to make up for sound it doesn’t hear, you’re left feeling drained. Visualize a task where you need to be totally focused like taking the SAT exam. You will likely feel drained once you’re done. The same thing occurs when you struggle to hear: your brain is doing work to fill in the blanks you’re missing in conversations – which is often made even harder when there is a lot of background sound – and spends precious energy just attempting to digest the conversation. Your overall health can be affected by this type of persistent fatigue and you can be left so tired you can’t take good care of yourself, passing up on things like going to the gym or cooking healthy meals.

Cognitive Decline

Several studies by Johns Hopkins University linked hearing loss to , accelerated brain tissue loss, and dementia. While these links 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 the resources available for other things such as comprehension and memory. 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. The process of cognitive decline can be reduced and seniors can stay mentally fit by the regular exchange of ideas through conversation. The future for researchers is promising due to the discovery of a connection between the decline in cognitive function and loss of hearing, since the causes of these conditions can be identified and treatment options can be developed when hearing and cognitive experts work together.

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 those who ignored their hearing condition had mental health issues like depression, anxiety, and paranoia, which negatively impacted their emotional and social well-being. Since difficulty communicating with others in family and social situations is typical for those with hearing loss, the link between mental health issues and hearing loss seems logical. This can bring on depression after suffering from prolonged feelings of seclusion. Due to these feelings of exclusion and isolation, anxiety and even paranoia can be the result, particularly if neglected. It’s been shown that recovery from depression is aided by wearing hearing aids. But a mental health professional should still be contacted if you have paranoia, depression, or anxiety.

Heart Disease

All the different parts of our bodies are one interconnected machine – an apparently unconnected part can be affected negatively if a different part stops working as it is supposed to. This is the situation with our hearts and ears. For instance, hearing loss will happen when blood doesn’t flow freely from the heart to the inner ear. 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. Those who have detected some amount 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 find out whether the hearing loss is indeed triggered by a heart condition, since neglecting the symptoms could lead to severe, potentially fatal consequences.

Please reach out to us if you are experiencing any of the negative effects detailed above or if you suffer from loss of hearing so we can help you live a healthier life. Make your appointment for a hearing test.

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