The regrettable reality is, as you age, your hearing starts to go. Roughly 38 million individuals cope with hearing loss in the U . S ., but many choose to dismiss it because they consider it as just a part of aging. Disregarding hearing loss, however, can have significant negative side effects on a person’s over-all well-being beyond how well they hear.
Why do so many people decide to simply accept 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 greater than half of the participants reported cost as a concern. The costs of ignoring hearing loss, however, can be a lot higher due to conditions and side effects that come with ignoring it. Here are the most prevalent adverse consequences of ignoring hearing loss.
The majority of people won’t instantly put two and two together from fatigue to hearing loss. Instead, they will attribute fatigue to countless different ideas, like slowing down due to aging or a side-effect of medication. But actually, if you have to work extra hard to hear, it can drain your physical resources. Imagine you are taking an exam such as the SAT where your brain is totally concentrated on processing the task in front of you. Once you’re done, you probably feel exhausted. When you’re struggling to hear, it’s a similar situation: when there are blanks spots in conversation, your brain needs to work hard to fill in the missing information – which, when there’s enough background noise, is even more difficult – and uses up precious energy just trying to manage the conversation. This kind of chronic exhaustion can impact your health by leaving you too tired to care for yourself, skipping out on things like working out or cooking healthy meals.
Hearing loss has been connected, by several Johns Hopkins University studies, to reduced brain functions , accelerated brain tissue loss, and dementia. Even though these links are not causation, they’re correlations, it’s believed by researchers that, again, the more cognitive resources that are used trying to fill in the blanks of a conversation, the less there are to give attention to other things including comprehension and memorization. And declining brain function, as we age is, directly linked to an additional draw on our cognitive resources. Additionally, engaging in a regular exchange of ideas and information, often through conversation, is thought to help seniors remain mentally fit and can help delay the process of cognitive decline. Fortunately, cognitive specialist and hearing specialist can use the known connection between mental decline and hearing loss to collaborate to carry out research and develop treatments that are promising in the near future.
Mental Health Problems
The National Council on the Aging performed a study of 2,300 seniors 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 issues like depression, anxiety, and paranoia, which negatively impacted their social and emotional happiness. It makes sense that there is a link between mental health and hearing loss problems since, in social and family situations, individuals who cope with hearing loss have a difficult time interacting with others. Eventually, feelings of separation could develop into depression. If left untreated, anxiety and even paranoia can surface due to these feelings of separation and exclusion. If you suffer from anxiety or depression, you should consult 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.
Our bodies are one coordinated machine – if one part stops functioning as it should, it might have a detrimental affect on another apparently unrelated part. This is the way it is with our hearts and ears. For instance, 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 affect the inner ear’s nerve endings and cause messages sent from the ear to the brain to become scrambled. Individuals who have detected some degree of hearing loss and who have a history of diabetes or heart disease in their families should contact both a hearing and cardiac specialist to ascertain whether the hearing loss is indeed caused by a heart condition, since neglecting the symptoms could lead to severe, possibly fatal consequences.
If you have hearing loss or are experiencing any of the adverse effects listed above, please reach out to us so we can help you live a healthier life.