It’s an unfortunate truth that hearing loss is part of the aging process. Approximately 38 million individuals in the U.S. suffer from some form of hearing loss, though since hearing loss is anticipated as we age, many decide to leave it unchecked. Disregarding hearing loss, though, can have serious negative side effects on a person’s general well-being beyond how well they hear.
Why do many people choose to simply live with hearing loss? Based on an AARP study, hearing loss is, thought to be by a third of seniors, a concern that’s minor and can be handled easily, while greater than half of the respondents cited cost as a problem. The costs of ignoring hearing loss, however, can be a lot higher as a result of conditions and side effects that come with leaving it untreated. Here are the most prevalent adverse consequences of ignoring hearing loss.
The dots will not be connected by most people from fatigue to hearing loss. Instead, they will attribute fatigue to countless different ideas, such as slowing down because of aging or a side-effect of medication. But in reality, if you have to work extra hard to hear, it can drain your physical resources. Think about taking a test such as the SAT where your brain is completely concentrated on processing the task in front of you. You would probably feel really depleted after you’re finished. When you’re struggling to hear, it’s a similar situation: when there are missing spots in conversation, your brain needs to work extra hard to fill in the missing information – which, when there is enough background noise, is even harder – and uses up valuable energy just trying to process the conversation. Looking after yourself takes energy which you won’t have with this kind of chronic fatigue. To adjust, you will avoid life-essential routines like working out or eating healthy.
Hearing loss has been connected, by numerous Johns Hopkins University studies, to diminishe cognitive functions , accelerated loss of brain tissue, and dementia. Even though these associations are not causation, they’re correlations, researchers think that, again, the more mental resources that are spent trying to fill in the blanks of a conversation, the less you have to focus on other things like comprehension and memorization. And as people get older, the additional draw on cognitive resources can speed up the decline of other brain functions and contribute to gray matter loss. Besides that, it’s believed that the process of cognitive decline can be slowed and mental wellness can be preserved by sustained exchange of ideas, normally through conversation. The fact that a connection between cognitive function and hearing loss was found is encouraging for future research since hearing and cognitive specialists can collaborate to pinpoint the factors and create treatments for these ailments.
Mental Health Problems
The National Council on the Aging carried out a study of 2,300 senior citizens who were dealing with some form of hearing loss and discovered that those who left their condition untreated were more likely to also be dealing with mental health problems such as depression, anxiety, and paranoia, which negatively impacted their emotional and social happiness. It makes sense that there is a connection between mental health and hearing loss problems since, in social and family situations, people who cope with hearing loss have a hard time interacting with others. This can result in feelings of separation, which can eventually lead to depression. If left untreated, anxiety and even paranoia can surface due to these feelings of separation and exclusion. If you are dealing with anxiety or depression, you need to consult a mental health professional and you also should know that hearing aids have been proven to help people recover from some forms of depression.
Our bodies are one interconnected machine – if one part stops working like it should, it may have a detrimental impact on another seemingly unrelated part. 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 constrained, hearing loss could occur. 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 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 actually caused by a heart condition, since ignoring the symptoms might lead to serious, possibly fatal repercussions.
If you deal with hearing loss or are experiencing any of the adverse repercussions listed above, please contact us for a consultation so we can help you have a healthier life.