It’s an unfortunate truth that hearing loss is part of the aging process. Approximately 38 million people in the United States suffer from some form of hearing loss, though because hearing loss is expected as we get older, many decide to leave it unchecked. Disregarding hearing loss, though, can have significant adverse side effects on a person’s whole well-being beyond their inability to hear.
Why do many people decide to just deal with hearing loss? According to an AARP study, hearing loss is, according to a third of senior citizens, a problem that’s minimal and can be dealt with easily, while more than half of the participants reported cost as a concern. However, those costs can rise astronomically when you factor in the significant adverse reactions and ailments that are triggered by neglecting hearing loss. What are the most common challenges of neglecting 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, like slowing down due to aging or a side-effect of medication. But in reality, if you need to work harder to hear, it can drain your physical resources. Recall how fatigued you were at times in your life when your brain had to be completely focused on a task for long time periods. Once you’re done, you likely feel exhausted. When you are struggling to hear, it’s an equivalent situation: your brain is trying to fill in the blanks you’re missing in conversations – which, when there is too much background noise, is even more difficult – and uses up valuable energy just attempting to process the conversation. Looking after yourself takes energy that you won’t have with this kind of chronic exhaustion. To adapt, you will avoid life-essential activities like working out or eating healthy.
Hearing loss has been connected, by several Johns Hopkins University studies, to decreased cognitive functions , increased brain tissue loss, and dementia. While these links are correlations, instead of causations, it’s theorized by researchers that, once again, the more often you need to fill in the conversational blanks, which uses up mental resources, the less there are to give attention to other things like comprehension and memorization. And as people age, the increased draw on mental resources can speed up the decline of other brain functions and contribute to loss of gray matter. What’s more, having a regular exchange of ideas and information, usually through conversation, is believed to help seniors remain mentally fit and can help delay the process of mental decline. 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 narrow down the causes and develop treatments for these ailments.
Problems With Mental Health
The National Council on the Aging discovered, from a study of more than two thousand senior citizens, that mental health problems that have a negative emotional and social affect, are more common if there is also neglected hearing loss. It makes sense that there is a connection between mental health and hearing loss issues since people with hearing loss frequently have difficulty communicating with other people in family or social situations. This can lead to feelings of isolation, which can eventually result in depression. If neglected, anxiety and even paranoia can appear as a result of these feelings of separation and exclusion. If you suffer from anxiety or depression, you need to consult a mental health professional and you also should know that hearing aids have been shown to help people recover from some kinds of depression.
Our bodies are one coordinated machine – if one component stops functioning as it should, it may have a detrimental affect on another seemingly unrelated part. This is the case with our hearts and ears. Case in point, hearing loss will happen when blood does not flow easily from the heart to the inner ear. 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 signals. 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 figure out whether the hearing loss is indeed caused by a heart condition, since neglecting the symptoms might lead to severe, possibly fatal repercussions.
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.