It’s an unfortunate fact of life that hearing loss is part of the aging process. Approximately 38 million individuals in the United States deal with some form of hearing loss, though since hearing loss is expected as we age, many people choose to leave it unchecked. Ignoring hearing loss, however, can have significant adverse side effects on a person’s entire well-being beyond their inability to hear.
Why do so many people choose to just deal with hearing loss? Based on an AARP study, more than one-third of senior citizens consider hearing loss to be a minor concern that can be managed fairly easily, while more than half of the participants reported cost as a concern. The costs of neglecting hearing loss, however, can be a lot higher because of conditions and adverse reactions that come with ignoring it. Here are the most likely adverse effects of neglecting hearing loss.
The dots will not be connected by most people from fatigue to hearing loss. Instead, they will blame their fatigue on several different ideas, such as slowing down because of aging or a side-effect of medication. But actually, if you have to work extra hard to hear, it can drain your physical resources. Recall how fatigued you were at times in your life when your brain had to be totally focused on a task for extended periods of time. You would probably feel quite drained when you’re done. The same thing occurs when you struggle to hear: your brain is trying to fill in the blanks you’re missing in conversations – which is usually made even harder when there’s a lot of background noise – and consumes precious energy just trying to process the conversation. This kind of chronic fatigue can affect your health by leaving you too tired to take care of yourself, cutting out things like going to the gym or cooking healthy meals.
Decline of Cognitive Function
Numerous studies conducted by Johns Hopkins University connected hearing loss to decreased brain functions , accelerated loss of brain tissue, and dementia. Although these associations are not causation, they’re correlations, scientists think that, again, the more frequently you need to fill in the conversational blanks, which consumes cognitive resources, the less there are to focus on other things including comprehension and memorization. And as people age, the increased draw on mental resources can speed up the decline of other brain functions and can lead to loss of gray matter. 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 link between cognitive function and hearing loss was found is promising for future research since hearing and cognitive specialists can collaborate to pinpoint the factors and develop treatments for these ailments.
Concerns With Mental Health
The National Council on the Aging found, from a study of over two thousand seniors, that mental health problems that 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 seems logical since people who suffer from hearing loss frequently have difficulty communicating with other people in family or social situations. This can lead to feelings of isolation, which can eventually result in depression. If left untreated, anxiety and even paranoia can appear due to these feelings of separation and exclusion. Hearing aids have been proven to aid in the recovery from depression, although anyone suffering from depression, anxiety, or paranoia should contact a mental health professional.
Our bodies are one coordinated machine – if one part stops functioning as it should, it might have a negative impact on another seemingly unrelated part. This is the situation 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 impact the inner ear’s nerve endings and cause messages sent to the brain from the ear to get scrambled. People who have noticed some degree 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 determine whether the hearing loss is indeed caused by a heart condition, since ignoring the symptoms might lead to serious, possibly fatal consequences.
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 may suffer.