It’s an unfortunate fact of life that hearing loss is part of the aging process. Approximately 38 million people in the U.S. suffer from some form of hearing loss, though because hearing loss is expected as we get older, many choose to leave it unchecked. Ignoring hearing loss, though, can have major adverse side effects on a person’s general well-being beyond their inability to hear.
Why is the choice to just ignore hearing loss one that lots of people consider? Based on an AARP study, hearing loss is, thought to be by a third of seniors, a concern that’s minor and can be managed easily, while greater than half of the respondents reported cost as a problem. The costs of neglecting hearing loss, however, can become a great deal higher due to complications and adverse reactions that come with leaving it untreated. Here are the most likely adverse consequences of neglecting hearing loss.
The majority of people won’t instantly connect the dots from fatigue to hearing loss. Instead, they will blame their fatigue on countless different ideas, such as slowing down due to aging or a side-effect of medication. The truth is that the less you’re able to hear, the more your body struggles to compensate for it, leaving you feeling drained. Think about taking a test such as the SAT where your brain is entirely focused on processing the task at hand. You would most likely feel quite drained when you’re done. The same situation takes place when you struggle to hear: your brain is trying to fill in the blanks you’re missing in conversations – which, when there’s too much background noise, is even more difficult – and just trying to process information consumes precious energy. This kind of chronic exhaustion can affect your health by leaving you too tired to care for yourself, skipping out on things like working out or cooking wholesome meals.
Numerous studies conducted by Johns Hopkins University connected hearing loss to decreased cognitive functions , increased brain tissue loss, and dementia. Although these connections are not causation, they’re correlations, it’s theorized by researchers that, again, the more often you need to fill in the conversational blanks, which consumes cognitive resources, the less there are to focus on other things like memorization and comprehension. And declining brain function, as we get older is, directly linked to an increased draw on our mental resources. Besides that, it’s believed that the process of mental decline can be slowed and mental fitness can be maintained by a continued exchange of ideas, normally through conversation. The fact that a link 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 treatment options for these ailments.
Concerns With Mental Health
The National Council on the Aging discovered, from a study of more than two thousand senior citizens, that mental health issues which have a negative emotional and social impact, are more prevalent if there is also untreated hearing loss. The connection between mental health issues and hearing loss adds up since people who suffer from hearing loss frequently have a hard time communicating with other people in family or social situations. This can result in feelings of separation, which can ultimately result in depression. If neglected, anxiety and even paranoia can surface due to these feelings of separation and exclusion. If you are dealing with anxiety or depression, you need to consult a mental health professional and you should also know that hearing aids have been shown to help people recover from some kinds of depression.
Our bodies are one interconnected machine – if one part stops functioning like it is supposed to, it may have a negative impact on another seemingly unrelated part. This is the case with our hearts and ears. Case in point, hearing loss will occur when blood does not flow easily from the heart to the inner ear. Diabetes, which is also connected to heart disease, can impact the inner ear’s nerve endings and cause messages sent to the brain from the ear to become scrambled. Individuals who have noticed some amount of hearing loss and who have a history of heart disease or diabetes in their families should contact both a hearing and cardiac specialist to ascertain whether the hearing loss is actually caused by a heart condition, since overlooking the symptoms might lead to severe, possibly fatal consequences.
If you deal with hearing loss or are experiencing any of the adverse repercussions listed above, please reach out to us so we can help you have a healthier life.