The regrettable reality is, as you get older, your hearing starts to go. Roughly 38 million individuals in the United States deal with some kind of hearing loss, but because hearing loss is anticipated as we age, many choose to ignore it. Disregarding hearing loss, however, can have major adverse side effects on a person’s whole well-being beyond how well they hear.
Why do so many people choose to just live with 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 cost was a concern for more than half of individuals who participated in the study. The costs of ignoring hearing loss, though, can be a lot higher as a result of conditions and adverse reactions that come with ignoring it. What are the most common challenges of ignoring hearing loss?
The dots will not be connected by most people 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 fact is that the less you can hear, the more your body struggles to compensate for it, leaving you feeling exhausted. Recall how tired you were at times in your life when your brain needed to be completely concentrated on a task for prolonged time periods. You would most likely feel fairly drained when you’re done. The same situation takes place when you struggle to hear: when there are blanks spots in conversation, your brain has to work extra hard to substitute the missing information – which is usually made even harder when there is a lot of background noise – and uses up precious energy just trying to manage the conversation. This kind of chronic fatigue can impact your health by leaving you too tired to take care of yourself, skipping out on things like working out or cooking healthy meals.
Hearing loss has been connected, by several Johns Hopkins University studies, to diminishe cognitive functions , accelerated brain tissue loss, and dementia. While these connections are correlations, not causations, it’s believed by researchers that, once again, the more often you need to fill in the conversational blanks, which uses up cognitive resources, the less you have to focus on other things including memorization and comprehension. And as people age, the additional draw on cognitive resources can speed up the decline of other brain functions and can lead to loss of gray matter. Moreover, it’s believed that the process of cognitive decline can be slowed and mental fitness can be preserved by a continued exchange of ideas, normally through conversation. Luckily, 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.
Mental Health Problems
The National Council on the Aging conducted a study of 2,300 seniors who were dealing with some form of hearing loss and found that those who left their condition untreated were more likely to also suffer from mental health problems like depression, anxiety, and paranoia, which negatively impacted their emotional and social happiness. The connection between mental health issues and hearing loss adds up since people who suffer from hearing loss frequently have a hard time communicating with other people in family or social situations. Eventually, feelings of separation could develop into depression. Feelings of exclusion and separation can escalate to anxiety and even paranoia if neglected. If you are dealing with anxiety or depression, you should talk to a mental health professional and you should also be aware that hearing aids have been shown to help people recover from some types of depression.
If one part of your body, which is an interconnected machine, stops working correctly, it could have an impact on apparently unrelated bodily functions. 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 restricted, hearing loss could happen. Diabetes, which is also linked to heart disease, can impact the inner ear’s nerve endings and cause messages sent from the ear to the brain to get scrambled. If heart disease is ignored serious or even possibly fatal consequences can occur. So if you’ve 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 cardiac and hearing specialist so that you can determine if your hearing loss is connected to a heart condition.
If you have hearing loss or are going through any of the adverse effects listed above, please reach out to us so we can help you live a healthier life.