The unfortunate reality is, as you get older, your hearing starts to fail. Roughly 38 million people in the United States deal with some kind of hearing loss, but because hearing loss is expected as we age, many choose to just deal with it. Neglecting hearing loss, though, can have major negative side effects on a person’s general well-being beyond how well they hear.
Why is the decision to just ignore hearing loss one that many people consider? Based on an AARP study, more than one-third of senior citizens think of hearing loss as a minor problem that can be dealt with fairly easily, while greater than half of the respondents cited cost as a problem. However, those costs can increase astronomically when you take into account the significant side effects and ailments that are brought about by neglecting hearing loss. What are the most prevalent complications of neglecting hearing loss?
The dots will not be connected by most people from fatigue to hearing loss. They will say, instead, that they are slowing down because of the side-effects of a medication or because they’re getting older. But in reality, if you need to work harder to hear, it can deplete your physical resources. Recall how tired you were at times in your life when your brain had to be completely concentrated on a task for prolonged time periods. You would probably feel quite drained when you’re done. When you are struggling to hear, it’s an equivalent scenario: your brain is trying to fill in the blanks you’re missing in conversations – which is usually made even more difficult when there’s a lot of background noise – and simply attempting to process information uses valuable energy. This kind of chronic tiredness can impact your health by leaving you too tired to care for yourself, cutting out things like working out or cooking wholesome meals.
Hearing loss has been linked, by several Johns Hopkins University studies, to diminishe brain functions , increased brain tissue loss, and dementia. While these connections are correlations, instead of causations, researchers think that, once again, the more frequently you need to fill in the conversational blanks, which uses up mental resources, the less you have to focus on other things like memorization and comprehension. And as people get older, the increased draw on cognitive resources can accelerate the decline of other brain functions and contribute to gray matter loss. In addition, engaging in a routine exchange of information and ideas, usually through conversation, is believed to help seniors stay mentally fit and can help decrease the process of cognitive decline. The fact that a connection between cognitive function and hearing loss was found is promising for future research since hearing and cognitive specialists can collaborate to pinpoint the factors and create treatment options for these conditions.
Mental Health Issues
The National Council on the Aging conducted a study of 2,300 senior citizens who suffered some form of hearing loss and found that individuals who neglected their condition were more likely to also be dealing with mental health issues like depression, anxiety, and paranoia, which negatively affected their emotional and social well-being. It is obvious that there’s a link between hearing loss and mental health issues since, in social and family situations, people who cope with hearing loss have a difficult time communicating with others. Eventually, feelings of isolation could develop into depression. Feelings of exclusion and separation can worsen to anxiety and even paranoia if neglected. If you suffer from anxiety or depression, you should contact a mental health professional and you should also be aware that hearing aids have been proven to help people recover from some types of depression.
If one part of your body, which is an interconnected machine, stops functioning properly, it could have an affect on apparently unrelated bodily functions. This is the way it is with our hearts and ears. As a case in point, if blood flow from the heart to the inner ear is constrained, hearing loss may be the result. Another affliction linked to heart disease is diabetes which also has an effect on the nerve endings of the inner ear and can cause the brain to get scrambled information. People who have noticed some amount of hearing loss and who have a history of diabetes or heart disease in their families should consult with both a hearing and cardiac specialist to figure out whether the hearing loss is actually caused by a heart condition, since overlooking the symptoms might lead to serious, possibly fatal repercussions.
If you deal with hearing loss or are experiencing any of the adverse effects listed above, please reach out to us so we can help you have a healthier life.