The regrettable truth is, as you age, your hearing begins to go. 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 decide to just deal with it. Disregarding hearing loss, though, can have significant negative side effects on a person’s over-all well-being beyond their inability to hear.
Why do many people decide to just live with hearing loss? Based on an AARP study, more than one-third of senior citizens consider hearing loss to be a minor issue that can be dealt with easily enough, while more than half of the participants reported cost as a concern. The costs of ignoring hearing loss, though, can be a lot higher due to conditions and side effects that come with ignoring it. Here are the most common adverse effects of neglecting hearing loss.
The majority of people will not immediately connect the dots 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 actually, if you have to work extra hard to hear, it can deplete your physical resources. Recall how fatigued you were at times in your life when your brain had to be completely concentrated on a task for prolonged periods of time. You would most likely feel fairly drained when you’re done. When you’re struggling to hear, it’s a similar situation: when there are blanks spots in conversation, your brain has to work extra hard to fill in the missing information – which, when there’s enough background noise, is even more difficult – and uses up valuable energy just attempting to process the conversation. Taking care of yourself requires energy which you won’t have with this kind of chronic exhaustion. To adapt, you will skip life-essential routines such as working out or eating healthy.
Hearing loss has been connected, by numerous Johns Hopkins University studies, to reduced brain functions , increased loss of brain tissue, and dementia. While these connections are correlations, not causations, it’s theorized by researchers that, once again, the more mental resources that are used trying to fill in the blanks of a conversation, the less there are to give attention to other things including memorization and comprehension. And decreasing brain function, as we age is, directly connected to an increased draw on our mental resources. Moreover, it’s believed that the process of cognitive decline can be lessened 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 treatments for these conditions.
Problems With Mental Health
The National Council on the Aging conducted a study of 2,300 seniors who were dealing with some form of hearing loss and found that those who left their condition untreated were more likely to also suffer from mental health problems including depression, anxiety, and paranoia, which negatively impacted their social and emotional happiness. The connection between hearing loss and mental health issues adds up since, in family and social situations, individuals who suffer from hearing loss have a hard time communicating with others. Ultimately, feelings of separation could develop into depression. If neglected, anxiety and even paranoia can surface due to these feelings of isolation and exclusion. If you suffer from anxiety or depression, you need to consult a mental health professional and you should also be aware that hearing aids have been proven to help people recover from some kinds of depression.
If one part of your body, which is an interconnected machine, stops functioning correctly, it might have an affect on apparently unrelated bodily functions. This is the way it is with our hearts and ears. Case in point, hearing loss will occur when blood doesn’t 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 messages sent from the ear to the brain to get scrambled. If heart disease is neglected serious or even potentially fatal consequences can happen. So if you’ve noticed some hearing loss and have a history of heart disease or heart disease in your family you should seek advice from both a hearing and a cardiac specialist so that you can determine if your hearing loss is connected to a heart condition.
If you want to begin living a healthier life, reach out to us so we can help you address any adverse effects of hearing loss that you may suffer.