The unfortunate truth is, as you get older, your hearing starts to go. Roughly 38 million people in the United States suffer from some kind of hearing loss, but because hearing loss is anticipated as we age, many choose to leave it unchecked. But beyond how well you hear, disregarding hearing loss will have severe negative side effects.
Why do so many people choose to simply 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 cost was a worry for more than half of individuals who took part in the study. But, those costs can go up astronomically when you factor in the serious adverse reactions and conditions that are brought about by ignoring hearing loss. 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 blame their fatigue on several different factors, such as slowing down due to aging or a side-effect of medication. The reality is that the less you can hear, the more your body works to compensate for it, leaving you feeling tired. Remember how tired you were at times in your life when your brain needed to be completely focused on a task for prolonged time periods. You would most likely feel quite drained when you’re done. When you’re struggling to hear, it’s an equivalent scenario: your brain is working to fill in the blanks you’re missing in conversations – which is usually made even harder when there’s a lot of background noise – and uses up valuable energy just attempting to process the conversation. Taking care of yourself requires energy which you won’t have with this kind of chronic exhaustion. To adjust, you will avoid life-essential routines like working out or eating healthy.
Decline of Brain Function
Hearing loss has been linked, by a number of Johns Hopkins University studies, to reduced brain functions , accelerated loss of brain tissue, and dementia. While these links are correlations, instead of causations, it’s believed by researchers that, once again, the more frequently you need to fill in the conversational blanks, which uses up cognitive resources, the less you have to focus on other things like memorization and comprehension. And declining brain function, as we age is, directly linked to an additional draw on our mental resources. On top of that, it’s believed that the process of cognitive decline can be lessened and mental fitness can be preserved by sustained exchange of ideas, normally through conversation. The fact that a link 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 pinpoint the factors and create treatments for these ailments.
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 found that those who left their condition untreated were more likely to also suffer from mental health issues including depression, anxiety, and paranoia, which negatively impacted their social and emotional well-being. The link between hearing loss and mental health issues makes sense since people with hearing loss often have a hard time communicating with others in social or family situations. This can lead to feelings of separation, which can ultimately result in depression. Feelings of exclusion and isolation can worsen to anxiety and even paranoia if left untreated. Hearing aids have been proven to help in the recovery from depression, though anyone suffering from depression, anxiety, or paranoia should contact a mental health professional.
If one portion of your body, which is a coordinated machine, stops working 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 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 neglected severe or even possibly fatal consequences can happen. So if you’ve noticed some hearing loss and have a history of heart disease or heart disease in your family you should seek advice from both a hearing and a cardiac specialist in order to figure out whether your hearing loss is linked to a heart condition.
If you have hearing loss or are going through any of the adverse effects listed above, please contact us for a consultation so we can help you have a healthier life.