The regrettable reality is, as you get older, your hearing begins to go. Roughly 38 million people in the U.S. deal with some kind of hearing loss, though because hearing loss is expected as we age, many people choose to leave it unchecked. Disregarding hearing loss, however, can have major adverse side effects on a person’s over-all well-being beyond how well they hear.
Why is the choice to simply ignore hearing loss one that lots of people choose? According to an AARP study, hearing loss is, according to a third of senior citizens, an issue that’s minor and can be managed easily, while more than half of the respondents reported cost as a problem. The consequences of ignoring hearing loss, however, can be a lot higher due to complications and side effects that come with ignoring it. What are the most common challenges of ignoring hearing loss?
The majority of people will not immediately put two and two together 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. The truth is that the less you can hear, the more your body struggles to compensate for it, leaving you feeling exhausted. Imagine you are taking a test such as the SAT where your brain is completely focused on processing the task at hand. You would most likely feel quite depleted after you’re finished. The same situation happens when you struggle to hear: your brain is trying to fill in the blanks you’re missing in conversations – which is usually made even harder when there is lots of background noise – and simply trying to process information uses precious energy. This kind of chronic fatigue can impact your health by leaving you too tired to care for yourself, cutting out things like going to the gym or cooking wholesome meals.
Decline of Brain Function
Hearing loss has been linked, by several Johns Hopkins University studies, to decreased cognitive functions , accelerated loss of brain tissue, and dementia. While these links are correlations, not causations, it’s believed by researchers that, once again, the more frequently you need to fill in the conversational blanks, which consumes cognitive resources, the less you have to give attention to other things including memorization and comprehension. And declining 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 mental decline can be slowed and mental fitness can be maintained by sustained exchange of ideas, usually through conversation. Fortunately, cognitive specialist and hearing specialist can use the recognized link between mental decline and hearing loss to collaborate to carry out research and establish treatments that are promising in the near future.
Mental Health Issues
The National Council on the Aging carried out a study of 2,300 senior citizens who suffered some form of hearing loss and found that those who neglected their condition were more likely to also suffer from mental health problems like depression, anxiety, and paranoia, which negatively impacted their emotional and social happiness. It makes sense that there’s a link between mental health and hearing loss issues since, in social and family situations, people who suffer from hearing loss have a hard time communicating with others. Ultimately, feelings of isolation could develop into depression. If neglected, anxiety and even paranoia can surface as a result of these feelings of separation and exclusion. If you suffer from anxiety or depression, you should talk to a mental health professional and you also should be aware that hearing aids have been shown to help people recover from some forms of depression.
Our bodies are one coordinated machine – if one part stops working as it should, it could have a detrimental affect 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 restricted, hearing loss may be the result. Diabetes, which is also linked to heart disease, can affect the inner ear’s nerve endings and cause information sent to the brain from the ear to get scrambled. If heart disease is ignored severe or even possibly fatal consequences can occur. So if you have noticed some hearing loss and you have a history of heart disease or heart disease in your family you should contact both a cardiac and hearing specialist so that you can determine whether your hearing loss is linked to a heart condition.
If you want to start living a healthier life, reach out to us so we can help you address any adverse effects of hearing loss that you might suffer.