It’s an unfortunate fact of life that hearing loss is part of the aging process. Roughly 38 million people cope with hearing loss in the U . S ., but many decide to dismiss it because they consider it as just a part of aging. But beyond the ability to hear, disregarding hearing loss will have serious adverse side effects.
Why do so many people decide to just accept hearing loss? Based on an AARP study, more than one-third of senior citizens think of hearing loss as a minor problem that can be dealt with easily enough, while cost was a concern for more than half of individuals who took part in the study. However, those costs can rise astronomically when you take into account the significant adverse reactions and ailments that are brought on by neglecting hearing loss. Here are the most prevalent adverse effects 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. The reality is that the less you can hear, the more your body struggles to compensate for it, leaving you feeling exhausted. Imagine you are taking an exam such as the SAT where your brain is completely concentrated on processing the task in front of you. Once you’re finished, you probably feel drained. The same thing takes place when you struggle to hear: when there are missing 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 uses up valuable energy just trying to process the conversation. Taking care of yourself requires energy which you won’t have with this type of chronic exhaustion. To adjust, you will skip life-essential activities like working out or eating healthy.
Decline of Cognitive Function
Several studies by Johns Hopkins University connected hearing loss to diminishe brain functions , accelerated loss of brain tissue, and dementia. Although these links are not causation, they’re correlations, researchers believe 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 memorization and comprehension. And decreasing brain function, as we get older is, directly linked to an increased draw on our mental resources. Moreover, it’s believed that the process of cognitive decline can be lessened and mental fitness can be preserved by sustained exchange of ideas, usually through conversation. The fact that a connection was discovered between hearing loss and a decline in cognitive functions is promising for future research since hearing and cognitive specialists can work together to narrow down the factors and develop treatment options for these conditions.
Mental Health Problems
The National Council on the Aging found, from a study of more than two thousand senior citizens, that mental health problems which have a negative social and emotional affect, are more common if there is also neglected hearing loss. The link between mental health issues and hearing loss seems logical since people with hearing loss frequently have a hard time communicating with others in family or social situations. This can lead to feelings of isolation, which can ultimately result in depression. If neglected, anxiety and even paranoia can surface as a result of these feelings of solitude and exclusion. If you suffer from anxiety or depression, you should contact a mental health professional and you should also be aware that hearing aids have been shown to help people recover from some types of depression.
Our bodies are one coordinated machine – if one component stops working as it should, it could have a negative affect on another apparently 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 may happen. Another condition associated with 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 disregarded severe or even possibly fatal consequences can occur. So if you’ve detected some hearing loss and you have a history of diabetes or heart disease in your family you should seek advice from both a hearing and a cardiac specialist so that you can determine whether your hearing loss is connected to a heart condition.
If you have hearing loss or are going through any of the adverse repercussions listed above, please reach out to us so we can help you live a healthier life.