Loss of hearing is a normal part of getting older, unfortunately. Roughly 38 million people in the US have some form of hearing loss, but a lot of people decide to just neglect it because it’s a normal part of getting older. Neglecting hearing loss, however, can have severe negative side effects on a person’s entire well-being beyond their inability to hear.
Why do so many people resist getting help for their hearing loss? According to an AARP study, More than half of seniors cited costs as the major worry while one third consider hearing loss as a minor problem that can be easily handled. However, those costs can increase astronomically when you take into account the serious side effects and conditions that are triggered by ignoring hearing loss. Ignoring hearing loss has the following negative side effects.
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 such as aging or a side-effect of medication. In reality, as your brain attempts to make up for sound it can’t hear, you’re left feeling exhausted. Visualize a task where you have to be totally focused like taking the SAT test. After you’re finished, you probably feel drained. The same thing happens when you struggle to hear: your brain is doing work to fill in the blanks you’re missing in conversations – and if there is a lot of background noise this is even more overwhelming – and as you try to process the information, you spend precious energy. 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, leaving things like cooking healthy meals or going to the gym difficult to accomplish.
Johns Hopkins University conducted a study that linked hearing loss to , accelerated brain tissue loss, and dementia. While these links are not direct causations, they are correlations, researchers believe 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 memory and comprehension. And as people age, the greater drain on cognitive resources can accelerate the decrease of other brain functions and contribute to gray matter loss. In addition, having a regular exchange of ideas and information, often through conversation, is thought to help seniors stay mentally fit and can help slow the process of cognitive decay. The future for researchers is promising due to the discovery of a link between the decrease in cognitive function and hearing loss, since the causes of these ailments can be identified and treatments can be formulated when hearing and cognitive experts work together.
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 affected the emotional well being more often than those who don’t have hearing loss. Since problems communicating with others in family and social situations is typical for those with hearing loss, the connection between mental health problems and hearing loss makes sense. This can lead to feelings of seclusion, which can eventually lead to depression. If neglected, anxiety and even paranoia can appear due to these feelings of seclusion and exclusion. Hearing aids have been proven to help in the recovery from depression, however, anyone who has depression, anxiety, or paranoia should seek advice from with a mental health professional.
All the different parts of our bodies are one interconnected machine – an evidently unconnected part can be impacted negatively if a different part stops functioning as it is supposed to. This is the situation with our ears and hearts. Case in point, hearing loss will happen when blood doesn’t flow freely from the heart to the inner ear. Another disease that can impact the inner ear’s nerve ending, and is also associated with heart disease is diabetes which causes messages from the ear to the brain to get mixed up. In order to determine whether hearing loss is caused by heart disease or diabetes, if you have a family history of those illnesses consult with both a hearing expert and a cardiac specialist because ignoring the symptoms can lead to severe or even fatal repercussions.
Please contact us if you are having any of the negative effects detailed above or if you have loss of hearing so we can help you live a healthier life. Schedule your appointment now.