It’s a regrettable truth that hearing loss is part of the aging process. Approximately 38 million people cope with hearing loss in the United States, though many people choose to disregard it because they look at it as just a part of aging. But beyond the ability to hear, disregarding hearing loss can have severe adverse side effects.
Why is the choice to just ignore hearing loss one that many people choose? Based on an AARP study, hearing loss is, according to a third of senior citizens, an issue that’s minor and can be managed easily, while greater than half of the participants cited cost as a concern. The consequences of neglecting hearing loss, however, can become a great deal higher as a result of conditions and side effects that come with leaving it untreated. What are the most prevalent complications of ignoring hearing loss?
The majority of people will not 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. But in reality, if you have to work harder to hear, it can deplete your physical resources. Imagine you are taking an exam such as the SAT where your brain is totally focused on processing the task at hand. You would most likely feel really drained after you’re finished. The same thing occurs when you struggle to hear: when there are blanks spots in conversation, your brain has to work hard to substitute the missing information – which is usually made even harder when there’s a lot of background noise – and consumes valuable energy just trying to manage the conversation. Taking care of yourself takes energy which you won’t have with this type of chronic exhaustion. To adapt, you will avoid life-essential activities like working out or eating healthy.
Numerous studies conducted by Johns Hopkins University linked hearing loss to diminishe brain functions , accelerated brain tissue loss, and dementia. While these links are correlations, not causations, it’s believed by researchers that, again, the more cognitive resources that are spent attempting to fill in the blanks of a conversation, the less there are to give attention to other things like comprehension and memorization. And declining brain function, as we age is, directly linked to an increased draw on our mental resources. Moreover, it’s believed that the process of mental decline can be lessened and mental fitness can be maintained by sustained exchange of ideas, usually through conversation. The fact that a connection was discovered between hearing loss and a decline in cognitive functions is encouraging for future research since hearing and cognitive specialists can work together to narrow down the factors and develop treatment options for these ailments.
Mental Health Issues
The National Council on the Aging conducted a study of 2,300 seniors who suffered some form of hearing loss and found that those who neglected their condition 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 connection between mental health issues and hearing loss seems logical since people who suffer from hearing loss frequently have a hard time communicating with others in social or family situations. Ultimately, feelings of isolation could become depression. If neglected, anxiety and even paranoia can surface due to these feelings of isolation and exclusion. If you suffer from anxiety or depression, you need to contact a mental health professional and you also should know that hearing aids have been shown to help people recover from some forms of depression.
If one part of your body, which is a coordinated machine, stops functioning correctly, it could 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 restricted, hearing loss may be the result. Another condition associated with heart disease is diabetes which also has an effect on the nerve endings of the inner ear and sometimes causes the brain to receive scrambled information. People who have noticed 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 indeed caused by a heart condition, since overlooking the symptoms could lead to serious, possibly fatal consequences.
If you want to start living a healthier life, reach out to us so we can help you solve any adverse effects of hearing loss that you might suffer.