It’s a regrettable truth that hearing loss is part of the aging process. Approximately 38 million people cope with hearing loss in the U . S ., though many choose to disregard it because they think about it as just a part of getting older. But beyond the ability to hear, ignoring hearing loss can have severe negative side effects.
Why is the decision to just live with hearing loss one that many people consider? According to an AARP study, hearing loss is, thought to be by a third of seniors, an issue that is minor and can be dealt with easily, while greater than half of the participants cited cost as a problem. However, those costs can go up astronomically when you factor in the significant side effects and ailments that are triggered by ignoring hearing loss. What are the most common challenges of ignoring hearing loss?
Most people will not instantly connect the dots 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 can hear, the more your body works to make up for it, leaving you feeling tired. Recall how tired you were at times in your life when your brain needed to be totally focused on a task for long time periods. You would most likely feel quite drained when you’re done. The same situation occurs when you struggle to hear: when there are blanks spots in conversation, your brain needs to work extra hard to fill in the missing information – which is often made even more difficult when there’s a lot of background noise – and consumes precious energy just attempting to process the conversation. 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 wholesome meals.
Decline of Brain Function
Hearing loss has been linked, by a number of Johns Hopkins University studies, to diminishe cognitive functions , increased loss of brain tissue, and dementia. While these links are correlations, not causations, it’s theorized by researchers that, again, the more cognitive resources that are used attempting to fill in the blanks of a conversation, the less you have to focus on other things including comprehension and memorization. And declining brain function, as we age is, directly linked to an increased draw on our mental resources. In addition, engaging in a regular exchange of information and ideas, usually through conversation, is thought to help seniors remain mentally fit and can help delay the process of cognitive decline. The fact that a link between cognitive function and hearing loss was found is promising for future research since hearing and cognitive specialists can work together to pinpoint the causes and create treatments for these conditions.
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 neglected their condition were more likely to also suffer from mental health problems including depression, anxiety, and paranoia, which negatively affected their social and emotional well-being. It makes sense that there is a link between hearing loss and mental health issues since, in family and social situations, individuals who suffer from hearing loss have a hard time communicating with others. This can lead to feelings of separation, which can ultimately lead to depression. If left untreated, anxiety and even paranoia can appear due to these feelings of separation and exclusion. Hearing aids have been shown to aid in the recovery from depression, although anybody suffering from depression, anxiety, or paranoia should consult with a mental health professional.
Our bodies are one interconnected machine – if one part stops functioning as it is supposed to, it could have a detrimental affect on another apparently unrelated part. This is the way it is with our hearts and ears. Case in point, hearing loss will happen when blood does not flow easily from the heart to the inner ear. Diabetes, which is also linked to heart disease, can impact the inner ear’s nerve endings and cause information sent from the ear to the brain to get scrambled. Individuals who have noticed some amount of hearing loss and who have a history of diabetes or heart disease 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 could lead to serious, possibly fatal repercussions.
If you suffer from hearing loss or are experiencing any of the negative effects listed above, please reach out to us so we can help you have a healthier life.