It’s an unfortunate truth that hearing loss is part of the aging process. Roughly 38 million individuals in the U.S. deal with some form of hearing loss, though since hearing loss is anticipated as we get older, many decide to ignore it. But beyond the ability to hear, disregarding hearing loss can have severe adverse side effects.
Why is the decision to simply live with hearing loss one that many people choose? 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 easily enough, while price was a concern for more than half of individuals who took part in the study. The costs of neglecting hearing loss, though, can become a great deal higher as a result of complications and side effects that come with leaving it untreated. What are the most common complications of neglecting 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. The reality is that the less you’re able to hear, the more your body works to compensate for it, leaving you feeling drained. Recall how fatigued you were at times in your life when your brain needed to be totally focused on a task for long periods of time. Once you’re done, you likely feel exhausted. When you are struggling to hear, it’s an equivalent scenario: when there are missing spots in conversation, your brain has to work extra hard to substitute the missing information – which, when there is too much background noise, is even more difficult – and uses up precious energy just trying to manage the conversation. This type of chronic exhaustion can affect your health by leaving you too tired to take care of yourself, skipping out on things like working out or cooking healthy meals.
Several studies conducted by Johns Hopkins University linked hearing loss to reduced brain functions , accelerated brain tissue loss, and dementia. While these links are correlations, instead of causations, it’s believed by researchers that, again, the more mental resources that are used attempting to fill in the blanks of a conversation, the less you have to give attention to other things like memorization and comprehension. And as people get older, the additional draw on cognitive resources can speed up the decline of other brain functions and contribute to gray matter loss. On top of that, it’s believed that the process of cognitive decline can be lessened and mental fitness can be maintained by a continued exchange of ideas, usually through conversation. The fact that a connection between cognitive function and hearing loss was found is encouraging for future research since hearing and cognitive specialists can work together to narrow down the factors and develop treatments for these ailments.
Mental Health Issues
The National Council on the Aging conducted a study of 2,300 senior citizens who were dealing with some form of hearing loss and discovered that people who neglected their condition were more likely to also be dealing with mental health problems like 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 people who suffer from hearing loss often have a hard time communicating with others in social or family situations. Ultimately, feelings of isolation could develop into depression. Feelings of exclusion and isolation can escalate to anxiety and even paranoia if neglected. Hearing aids have been shown to aid in the recovery from depression, although anybody suffering from depression, anxiety, or paranoia should contact a mental health professional.
Our bodies are one interconnected machine – if one part stops working as it is supposed to, it may have a detrimental affect on another seemingly unrelated part. This is the way it is with our hearts and ears. Case in point, hearing loss will happen when blood does not easily flow from the heart to the inner ear. Diabetes, which is also linked to heart disease, can affect the inner ear’s nerve endings and cause information sent from the ear to the brain to get scrambled. If heart disease is neglected serious or even possibly fatal repercussions can occur. So if you have noticed some hearing loss and you have a history of diabetes or heart disease in your family you should contact both a hearing and a cardiac specialist so that you can 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 solve any adverse effects of hearing loss that you may suffer.