It’s a regrettable truth that hearing loss is part of the aging process. Roughly 38 million individuals suffer from hearing loss in the United States, though many people decide to disregard it because they look at it as just a part of getting older. Ignoring hearing loss, however, can have significant adverse side effects on a person’s general well-being beyond how well they hear.
Why do many people decide to simply accept hearing loss? According to an AARP study, more than one-third of senior citizens think of hearing loss as a minor concern that can be managed fairly easily, while more than half of the participants reported cost as a problem. But, those costs can increase incredibly when you take into account the significant adverse reactions and conditions that are brought about by neglecting hearing loss. Here are the most prevalent adverse consequences of neglecting hearing loss.
The majority of people won’t immediately put two and two together 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 need to work extra hard to hear, it can drain your physical resources. Imagine you are taking an exam like the SAT where your brain is totally focused on processing the task at hand. You would most likely feel quite depleted when you’re done. When you are struggling to hear, it’s a similar situation: when there are blanks spots in conversation, your brain needs to work extra hard to fill in the missing information – which, when there is too much background noise, is even more difficult – and just attempting to process information consumes valuable energy. Taking care of yourself takes energy which you won’t have with this type of chronic exhaustion. To adapt, you will avoid life-essential routines like working out or eating healthy.
Decline of Brain Function
Hearing loss has been connected, by several Johns Hopkins University studies, to reduced brain functions , accelerated loss of brain tissue, and dementia. While these connections are correlations, not causations, it’s theorized by researchers 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 additional draw on cognitive resources can speed up the decline of other brain functions and worsen loss of gray matter. In addition, having a routine exchange of information and ideas, often through conversation, is believed to help seniors stay mentally fit and can help decrease the process of cognitive decline. Fortunately, cognitive specialist and hearing specialist can use the recognized connection between cognitive decline and hearing loss to work together to undertake research and develop treatments that are encouraging in the near future.
Mental Health Problems
The National Council on the Aging performed a study of 2,300 seniors who suffered some form of hearing loss and discovered that those who neglected their condition were more likely to also suffer from mental health problems including depression, anxiety, and paranoia, which negatively affected their emotional and social happiness. It is obvious that there is a link between mental health and hearing loss issues since, in family and social situations, people who cope with hearing loss have a difficult time interacting with others. This can result in feelings of isolation, which can ultimately result in depression. If neglected, anxiety and even paranoia can surface as a result of these feelings of separation and exclusion. Hearing aids have been shown to help in the recovery from depression, though anyone suffering from depression, anxiety, or paranoia should contact a mental health professional.
If one portion of your body, which is an interconnected machine, stops functioning correctly, it could have an impact on seemingly unrelated bodily functions. This is the situation 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. Another condition linked to heart disease is diabetes which also impacts the nerve endings of the inner ear and can cause the brain to receive scrambled information. If heart disease is ignored severe or even possibly fatal consequences can occur. So if you have noticed some hearing loss and have a history of heart disease or heart disease in your family you should consult 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 begin living a healthier life, reach out to us so we can help you resolve any adverse effects of hearing loss that you may suffer.