The regrettable reality is, as you age, your hearing starts to fail. Roughly 38 million individuals in the U.S. deal with some form of hearing loss, but because hearing loss is expected as we get older, many people choose to leave it unchecked. But beyond the ability to hear, ignoring hearing loss can have serious negative side effects.
Why do many people choose to simply accept hearing loss? Based on an AARP study, hearing loss is, according to a third of seniors, a problem that is minor and can be handled easily, while greater than half of the respondents reported cost as a problem. The costs of ignoring hearing loss, however, can become a great deal higher due to conditions and adverse reactions that come with ignoring it. Here are the most common adverse effects of ignoring hearing loss.
Most people will not instantly put two and two together from fatigue to hearing loss. Instead, they will blame their fatigue on several different factors, such as 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 a test such as the SAT where your brain is totally focused on processing the task at hand. You would most likely feel fairly depleted when you’re done. The same situation occurs when you struggle to hear: when there are missing spots in conversation, your brain has to work extra hard to fill in the missing information – which is usually made even harder when there is lots of background noise – and simply trying to process information consumes valuable energy. Looking after yourself requires energy which you won’t have with this type of chronic exhaustion. To adjust, you will avoid life-essential routines like working out or eating healthy.
Decline of Brain Function
Several studies by Johns Hopkins University linked hearing loss to decreased cognitive functions , increased brain tissue loss, and dementia. While these links 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 you have to focus on other things including comprehension and memorization. And as people get older, the additional draw on mental resources can accelerate the decline of other brain functions and worsen loss of gray matter. Moreover, it’s believed that the process of cognitive decline can be slowed and mental fitness can be maintained by sustained exchange of ideas, normally through conversation. Luckily, cognitive specialist and hearing specialist can use the recognized connection between mental decline and hearing loss to collaborate to undertake research and establish treatments that are promising in the near future.
Issues 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 discovered that individuals who neglected their condition were more likely to also be dealing with mental health issues such as depression, anxiety, and paranoia, which negatively affected their emotional and social happiness. The link between mental health issues and hearing loss adds up since, in social and family situations, individuals who cope with hearing loss have a difficult time communicating with others. Ultimately, feelings of isolation could develop into depression. If neglected, anxiety and even paranoia can surface due to these feelings of separation and exclusion. If you suffer from anxiety or depression, you need to consult a mental health professional and you also should be aware that hearing aids have been shown to help people recover from some kinds of depression.
If one part of your body, which is a coordinated machine, stops functioning properly, it might have an impact on apparently unrelated bodily functions. This is the case with our hearts and ears. As a case in point, if blood flow from the heart to the inner ear is restricted, hearing loss may happen. Diabetes, which is also linked to heart disease, can impact the inner ear’s nerve endings and cause information sent to the brain from the ear to become scrambled. If heart disease is neglected serious or even potentially 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 consult both a hearing and a cardiac specialist so that you can determine whether your hearing loss is linked to a heart condition.
If you want to begin living a healthier life, reach out to us so we can help you solve any adverse effects of hearing loss that you might suffer.