The unfortunate truth is, as you age, your hearing starts to go. Roughly 38 million people cope with hearing loss in the U . S ., though many people decide to ignore it because they think about it as just a part of getting older. But beyond how well you hear, disregarding hearing loss will have serious adverse side effects.
Why do so many people decide to just live with hearing loss? According to an AARP study, more than one-third of senior citizens consider hearing loss to be a minor concern that can be dealt with easily enough, while more than half of the respondents cited cost as a problem. The costs of neglecting hearing loss, however, can become a great deal higher as a result of conditions and adverse reactions that come with ignoring it. Here are the most prevalent adverse consequences of neglecting hearing loss.
Most people won’t immediately connect the dots from fatigue to hearing loss. They will say, instead, that they are slowing down due to 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 works to make up for it, leaving you feeling tired. Imagine you are taking a test such as the SAT where your brain is completely concentrated on processing the task in front of you. You would most likely feel quite depleted after you’re finished. The same thing happens when you struggle to hear: your brain is trying to fill in the blanks you’re missing in conversations – which is often made even more difficult when there’s a lot of background noise – and consumes precious energy just trying to process the conversation. Taking care of yourself takes energy which you won’t have with this kind of chronic exhaustion. To adjust, you will avoid life-essential activities like working out or eating healthy.
Hearing loss has been linked, by several Johns Hopkins University studies, to decreased cognitive functions , accelerated loss of brain tissue, and dementia. Although these links are not causation, they’re correlations, it’s theorized by researchers that, once again, the more mental resources that are spent attempting to fill in the blanks of a conversation, the less there are to focus on other things including comprehension and memorization. And declining brain function, as we get older is, directly connected to an increased draw on our cognitive resources. On top of that, it’s believed that the process of cognitive decline can be slowed and mental fitness can be preserved by a continued exchange of ideas, normally through conversation. The fact that a link was discovered between hearing loss and a decline in cognitive functions is promising for future research since hearing and cognitive specialists can collaborate to narrow down the causes and create treatments for these ailments.
Issues With Mental Health
The National Council on the Aging performed a study of 2,300 senior citizens who were dealing with some form of hearing loss and found that people who neglected their condition were more likely to also be dealing with mental health problems such as depression, anxiety, and paranoia, which negatively affected their emotional and social well-being. The link between mental health issues and hearing loss adds up since, in social and family situations, people who suffer from hearing loss have a hard time interacting with others. Ultimately, feelings of isolation could become depression. Feelings of exclusion and isolation can worsen to anxiety and even paranoia if left untreated. If you suffer from anxiety or depression, you should talk to a mental health professional and you should also know that hearing aids have been proven to help people recover from some kinds of depression.
Our bodies are one coordinated machine – if one part stops working as it should, it might have a negative 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 may occur. Diabetes, which is also linked to heart disease, can affect the inner ear’s nerve endings and cause information sent from the ear to the brain to become scrambled. If heart disease is ignored serious or even potentially fatal repercussions can occur. So if you’ve detected some hearing loss and have a history of diabetes or heart disease in your family you should consult both a cardiac and hearing specialist so that you can figure out whether your hearing loss is linked to a heart condition.
If you have hearing loss or are going through any of the negative effects listed above, please contact us for a consultation so we can help you live a healthier life.