It’s an unfortunate fact of life 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 age, many choose to ignore it. Ignoring hearing loss, however, can have serious negative side effects on a person’s over-all well-being beyond their inability to hear.
Why do so many people decide to just accept hearing loss? According to an AARP study, hearing loss is, thought to be by a third of seniors, a concern that is minor and can be managed easily, while more than half of the participants reported cost as a problem. However, 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 prevalent challenges of ignoring hearing loss?
The dots will not be connected by most people from fatigue to hearing loss. They will say, rather, that they are slowing down because of the side-effects of a medication or because they’re getting older. But actually, if you have to work extra hard to hear, it can drain your physical resources. Imagine you are taking an exam such as the SAT where your brain is totally focused on processing the task in front of you. You would probably feel quite depleted after you’re finished. The same situation occurs when you struggle to hear: your brain is trying to fill in the blanks you’re missing in conversations – which, when there’s too much background noise, is even harder – and uses up valuable energy just trying to process the conversation. This type of chronic fatigue can impact your health by leaving you too tired to take care of yourself, cutting out things like going to the gym or cooking healthy meals.
Decline of Brain Function
Numerous studies by Johns Hopkins University linked hearing loss to reduced brain functions , increased brain tissue loss, and dementia. While these links are correlations, instead of causations, researchers think that, again, the more cognitive resources that are used trying to fill in the blanks of a conversation, the less you have to give attention to other things including comprehension and memorization. And as people get older, the increased draw on cognitive resources can speed up the decline of other brain functions and contribute to gray matter loss. Moreover, it’s believed that the process of mental decline can be slowed and mental fitness can be maintained by a continued exchange of ideas, normally through conversation. Fortunately, cognitive specialist and hearing specialist can use the known link between mental decline and hearing loss to work together to undertake research and develop treatments that are promising in the near future.
Concerns With Mental Health
The National Council on the Aging discovered, from a study of over two thousand seniors, that mental health problems which have a negative social and emotional affect, are more prevalent if there is also untreated hearing loss. It makes sense that there’s a link between hearing loss and mental health issues since, in social and family situations, individuals who cope with hearing loss have a hard time communicating with others. Eventually, feelings of separation could become depression. If neglected, anxiety and even paranoia can appear as a result of these feelings of separation and exclusion. Hearing aids have been proven to aid in the recovery from depression, although anyone suffering from depression, anxiety, or paranoia should talk to a mental health professional.
Our bodies are one coordinated machine – if one part stops working like it is supposed to, it might have a detrimental impact on another seemingly unrelated part. 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 could occur. Diabetes, which is also linked to heart disease, can affect the inner ear’s nerve endings and cause messages sent to the brain from the ear to become scrambled. Individuals who have noticed some amount of hearing loss and who have a history of heart disease or diabetes in their families should contact both a hearing and cardiac specialist to determine whether the hearing loss is actually caused by a heart condition, since overlooking the symptoms might lead to severe, possibly fatal consequences.
If you have hearing loss or are going through any of the adverse repercussions listed above, please get in touch with us so we can help you live a healthier life.