It’s an unfortunate truth that hearing loss is part of the aging process. Approximately 38 million people cope with hearing loss in the U . S ., but many people decide to disregard it because they look at it as just a part of getting older. Neglecting hearing loss, however, can have significant adverse side effects on a person’s general well-being beyond how well they hear.
Why is the decision to just ignore hearing loss one that lots of people consider? According to an AARP study, more than one-third of senior citizens consider hearing loss to be a minor concern that can be handled easily enough, while greater than half of the respondents cited cost as a problem. However, those costs can increase astronomically when you take into account the significant adverse reactions and conditions that are triggered by neglecting hearing loss. What are the most common complications of ignoring hearing loss?
Most people won’t immediately put two and two together 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 exhausted. Remember how fatigued you were at times in your life when your brain had to be completely focused on a task for extended time periods. You would most likely feel quite drained when you’re done. When you’re struggling to hear, it’s an equivalent scenario: when there are missing spots in conversation, your brain has to work extra hard to substitute the missing information – which, when there’s enough background noise, is even more difficult – and just attempting to process information consumes precious energy. Looking after yourself takes energy that you won’t have with this kind of chronic fatigue. To adjust, you will skip life-essential routines such as working out or eating healthy.
Hearing loss has been connected, by several Johns Hopkins University studies, to decreased cognitive functions , accelerated loss of brain tissue, and dementia. While these connections are correlations, not causations, researchers think that, once again, the more often you need to fill in the conversational blanks, which consumes mental resources, the less you have to give attention to other things including comprehension and memorization. And decreasing brain function, as we age is, directly linked to an additional draw on our cognitive resources. Besides that, it’s believed that the process of cognitive decline can be lessened and mental fitness can be maintained by a continued exchange of ideas, usually through conversation. The fact that a connection between cognitive function and hearing loss was found is encouraging for future research since hearing and cognitive specialists can work together to pinpoint the causes and create treatment options for these ailments.
Concerns With Mental Health
The National Council on the Aging discovered, from a study of more than two thousand senior citizens, that mental health issues that have a negative emotional and social impact, are more common if there is also neglected hearing loss. It is obvious that there’s a link between hearing loss and mental health issues since people with hearing loss frequently have difficulty communicating with other people in social or family situations. Eventually, feelings of isolation could develop into depression. Feelings of exclusion and separation can escalate to anxiety and even paranoia if neglected. Hearing aids have been shown to aid in the recovery from depression, although anybody suffering from depression, anxiety, or paranoia should contact a mental health professional.
Our bodies are one coordinated machine – if one component stops working like it is supposed to, it might have a negative impact on another seemingly 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 be the result. Diabetes, which is also linked to heart disease, can impact the inner ear’s nerve endings and cause messages sent to the brain from the ear to get scrambled. If heart disease is disregarded serious or even potentially fatal consequences can happen. So if you have noticed some hearing loss and you have a history of heart disease or heart disease in your family you should seek advice from both a hearing and a cardiac specialist so that you can figure out if 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 adverse effects of hearing loss that you may suffer.