The regrettable reality is, as you age, your hearing starts to go. Roughly 38 million individuals in the U.S. suffer from some kind of hearing loss, though because hearing loss is expected as we age, many decide to leave it unchecked. But beyond the ability to hear, disregarding hearing loss will have serious adverse side effects.
Why do many people choose to just accept hearing loss? According to an AARP study, more than one-third of senior citizens think of hearing loss as a minor issue that can be managed fairly easily, while price was a worry for more than half of people who participated 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. What are the most prevalent challenges of ignoring hearing loss?
The majority of people won’t instantly connect the dots from fatigue to hearing loss. They will say, rather, 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. Remember how fatigued you were at times in your life when your brain had to be completely focused on a task for prolonged periods of time. Once you’re finished, you probably feel drained. When you are struggling to hear, it’s a similar scenario: when there are blanks spots in conversation, your brain needs to work hard to substitute the missing information – which, when there is too much background noise, is even harder – and simply trying to process information uses precious energy. This type of chronic tiredness can impact your health by leaving you too tired to take care of yourself, cutting out things like working out or cooking wholesome meals.
Hearing loss has been linked, by several Johns Hopkins University studies, to decreased brain functions , increased brain tissue loss, and dementia. Even though these links are not causation, they’re correlations, researchers think that, once again, the more often you need to fill in the conversational blanks, which uses up mental resources, the less you have to focus on other things including comprehension and memorization. And as people age, the additional draw on mental resources can accelerate the decline of other brain functions and can lead to loss of gray matter. On top of that, it’s believed that the process of mental decline can be lessened and mental fitness can be preserved by sustained exchange of ideas, usually through conversation. Fortunately, cognitive specialist and hearing specialist can use the recognized connection between mental decline and hearing loss to work together to undertake research and develop treatments that are promising in the near future.
Concerns With Mental Health
The National Council on the Aging conducted a study of 2,300 senior citizens who were dealing with some form of hearing loss and discovered that people who left their condition untreated were more likely to also suffer from mental health issues like depression, anxiety, and paranoia, which negatively affected their social and emotional well-being. The link between hearing loss and mental health issues adds up since, in social and family situations, people who suffer from hearing loss have a difficult time interacting with others. This can lead to feelings of isolation, which can ultimately lead to depression. If neglected, anxiety and even paranoia can appear due to these feelings of isolation and exclusion. Hearing aids have been shown to aid in the recovery from depression, although anybody suffering from depression, anxiety, or paranoia should talk to a mental health professional.
If one portion of your body, which is an interconnected machine, stops functioning correctly, it might have an impact on apparently unrelated bodily functions. 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 be the result. Another condition connected to heart disease is diabetes which also impacts the nerve endings of the inner ear and sometimes causes the brain to receive scrambled signals. People who have detected some degree of hearing loss and who have a history of diabetes or heart disease in their families should consult with both a hearing and cardiac specialist to determine whether the hearing loss is actually caused by a heart condition, since neglecting the symptoms could lead to serious, possibly fatal repercussions.
If you have hearing loss or are experiencing any of the negative effects listed above, please reach out to us so we can help you live a healthier life.