It’s an unfortunate fact of life that hearing loss is part of the aging process. Approximately 38 million individuals cope with hearing loss in the United States, though many choose to dismiss it because they consider it as just a part of aging. Disregarding hearing loss, though, can have major adverse side effects on a person’s whole well-being beyond their inability to hear.
Why do many people choose to just deal with hearing loss? According to an AARP study, hearing loss is, according to a third of senior citizens, a concern that is minimal and can be dealt with easily, while cost was a worry for more than half of those who took part in the study. However, those costs can go up astronomically when you factor in the significant side effects and ailments that are triggered by ignoring hearing loss. Here are the most common negative consequences of ignoring hearing loss.
The majority of people will not instantly put two and two together from fatigue to hearing loss. Instead, they will attribute fatigue to countless different factors, like slowing down due to aging or a side-effect of medication. The fact is that the less you’re able to hear, the more your body struggles to make up for it, leaving you feeling drained. Think about taking an exam like the SAT where your brain is totally focused on processing the task in front of you. You would probably feel really depleted when you’re done. The same thing happens when you struggle to hear: when there are blanks spots in conversation, your brain needs to work hard to substitute the missing information – which, when there’s too much background noise, is even harder – and uses up valuable energy just attempting to manage the conversation. Looking after yourself requires energy that you won’t have with this kind of chronic fatigue. To adapt, you will skip life-essential activities like working out or eating healthy.
Decline of Cognitive Function
Countless studies conducted by Johns Hopkins University connected hearing loss to diminishe cognitive functions , increased brain tissue loss, and dementia. Although these links are not causation, they’re correlations, researchers believe that, again, the more often you need to fill in the conversational blanks, which uses up cognitive resources, the less there are to focus on other things including comprehension and memorization. And as people get older, the increased draw on mental resources can speed up the decline of other brain functions and contribute to gray matter loss. On top of that, it’s believed that the process of cognitive decline can be slowed and mental fitness can be preserved by sustained exchange of ideas, normally 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 narrow down the factors and develop treatment options for these conditions.
Concerns With Mental Health
The National Council on the Aging discovered, from a study of more than two thousand senior citizens, that mental health problems which have a negative emotional and social impact, are more prevalent if there is also neglected hearing loss. It makes sense that there’s a connection between mental health and hearing loss problems since, in family and social situations, people 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 as a result of these feelings of separation and exclusion. Hearing aids have been proven to aid in the recovery from depression, though anybody suffering from depression, anxiety, or paranoia should consult with a mental health professional.
Our bodies are one coordinated machine – if one component stops functioning as it should, it could have a detrimental affect on another seemingly unrelated part. This is the way it is with our hearts and ears. As a case in point, if blood flow from the heart to the inner ear is restricted, hearing loss could happen. 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 get scrambled. People who have noticed 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 determine whether the hearing loss is indeed caused by a heart condition, since overlooking the symptoms could lead to severe, possibly fatal repercussions.
If you deal with hearing loss or are experiencing any of the negative repercussions listed above, please reach out to us so we can help you have a healthier life.