The unfortunate reality is, as you age, your hearing begins to fail. Approximately 38 million people in the United States deal with some kind of hearing loss, though since hearing loss is anticipated as we age, many choose to just deal with it. Neglecting hearing loss, though, can have major negative side effects on a person’s over-all well-being beyond how well they hear.
Why do many people choose to just live with hearing loss? Based on an AARP study, hearing loss is, according to a third of senior citizens, a problem that is minimal and can be managed easily, while cost was a worry for more than half of people who took part in the study. But, those costs can increase incredibly when you factor in the serious adverse reactions and conditions that are brought about by ignoring hearing loss. Here are the most prevalent negative consequences of ignoring hearing loss.
The dots will not be connected by most people 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. But in reality, if you have to work extra hard to hear, it can drain your physical resources. Remember 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 most likely feel really depleted after you’re finished. The same thing occurs when you struggle to hear: your brain is trying to fill in the blanks you’re missing in conversations – which, when there is enough background noise, is even more difficult – and uses up valuable energy just attempting to manage the conversation. This kind of chronic tiredness can affect your health by leaving you too tired to care for yourself, skipping out on things like going to the gym or cooking healthy meals.
Decline of Brain Function
Hearing loss has been linked, by a number of Johns Hopkins University studies, to diminishe cognitive functions , accelerated brain tissue loss, and dementia. While these connections are correlations, instead of causations, 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 you have to focus on other things like memorization and comprehension. And as people get older, the additional draw on mental resources can speed up the decline of other brain functions and worsen loss of gray matter. Moreover, it’s believed that the process of mental decline can be lessened and mental wellness can be preserved by a continued exchange of ideas, usually through conversation. The fact that a link between cognitive function and hearing loss was found is encouraging for future research since hearing and cognitive specialists can collaborate to narrow down the causes and create treatments for these conditions.
Mental Health Problems
The National Council on the Aging discovered, from a study of over two thousand seniors, that mental health problems which have a negative social and emotional impact, are more common if there is also untreated hearing loss. It is obvious that there’s a connection between mental health and hearing loss problems since people who suffer from hearing loss frequently have difficulty communicating with other people in family or social situations. Ultimately, feelings of isolation could develop into depression. If left untreated, anxiety and even paranoia can appear as a result of these feelings of isolation and exclusion. If you suffer from 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 coordinated machine – if one part stops working like it should, it may have a negative affect on another apparently unrelated part. This is the situation 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 happen. Diabetes, which is also connected to heart disease, can impact the inner ear’s nerve endings and cause information sent to the brain from the ear to get scrambled. If heart disease is disregarded serious or even potentially fatal consequences can occur. So if you’ve noticed some hearing loss and you have a history of diabetes or heart disease in your family you should consult both a cardiac and hearing specialist in order to figure out whether your hearing loss is connected to a heart condition.
If you want to start living a healthier life, reach out to us so we can help you address any negative effects of hearing loss that you may suffer.