It’s a regrettable fact of life that hearing loss is part of the aging process. Roughly 38 million individuals in the United States deal with some form of hearing loss, but since hearing loss is expected as we get older, many people choose to just deal with it. Ignoring hearing loss, however, can have serious adverse side effects on a person’s over-all well-being beyond their inability to hear.
Why is the decision to simply cope with hearing loss one that lots of people choose? According to an AARP study, more than one-third of senior citizens think of hearing loss as a minor issue that can be dealt with easily enough, while price was a worry for more than half of people who participated in the study. The costs of ignoring hearing loss, though, can be a lot higher because of complications and adverse reactions that come with ignoring it. Here are the most common adverse effects of ignoring hearing loss.
The dots will not be connected by most people from fatigue to hearing loss. Instead, they will attribute fatigue to countless different ideas, like slowing down because of aging or a side-effect of medication. But actually, if you need to work extra hard to hear, it can drain your physical resources. Recall how tired you were at times in your life when your brain had to be totally concentrated on a task for prolonged periods of time. Once you’re finished, you likely feel drained. When you are struggling to hear, it’s a similar situation: your brain is working to fill in the blanks you’re missing in conversations – which, when there is enough background noise, is even more difficult – and just trying to process information uses precious energy. Taking care of yourself requires energy that you won’t have with this type of chronic exhaustion. To adjust, you will avoid life-essential routines like working out or eating healthy.
Decline of Cognitive Function
Countless studies by Johns Hopkins University linked hearing loss to diminishe cognitive functions , accelerated brain tissue loss, and dementia. While these links are correlations, instead of causations, scientists believe that, again, the more frequently you need to fill in the conversational blanks, which consumes mental resources, the less you have to focus on other things including comprehension and memorization. And as people age, the increased draw on cognitive resources can accelerate the decline of other brain functions and can lead to gray matter loss. Moreover, it’s believed that the process of mental decline can be slowed and mental fitness can be preserved by sustained exchange of ideas, normally through conversation. 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 narrow down the factors and develop treatment options for these ailments.
Mental Health Problems
The National Council on the Aging conducted a study of 2,300 seniors who suffered some form of hearing loss and found that those who left their condition untreated were more likely to also suffer from mental health issues such as depression, anxiety, and paranoia, which negatively affected their social and emotional well-being. It makes sense that there is a connection between mental health and hearing loss problems since, in social and family situations, individuals who cope with hearing loss have a hard time interacting with others. This can lead to feelings of isolation, which can eventually lead to depression. If neglected, anxiety and even paranoia can appear due to these feelings of isolation and exclusion. If you are dealing with anxiety or depression, you should talk to a mental health professional and you should also know that hearing aids have been shown to help people recover from some forms of depression.
Our bodies are one interconnected machine – if one part stops functioning like it should, it could have a detrimental impact on another apparently unrelated part. This is the situation with our hearts and ears. For instance, hearing loss will happen when blood doesn’t easily flow from the heart to the inner ear. Diabetes, which is also connected to heart disease, can affect the inner ear’s nerve endings and cause information sent to the brain from the ear to become scrambled. If heart disease is ignored serious or even possibly fatal consequences can occur. So if you have detected some hearing loss and have a history of heart disease or heart disease in your family you should seek advice from both a cardiac and hearing specialist in order to determine whether your hearing loss is connected to a heart condition.
If you want to start living a healthier life, contact us so we can help you resolve any negative effects of hearing loss that you may suffer.