The unfortunate reality is, as you age, your hearing starts to fail. Approximately 38 million people in the U.S. suffer from some form of hearing loss, though since hearing loss is anticipated as we get older, many decide to just deal with it. But beyond the ability to hear, disregarding hearing loss can have serious adverse side effects.
Why do many people choose to just deal with hearing loss? Based on an AARP study, more than one-third of senior citizens consider hearing loss to be a minor problem that can be managed easily enough, while greater than half of the respondents cited cost as a problem. The costs of ignoring hearing loss, though, can become a great deal higher due to conditions and adverse reactions that come with leaving it untreated. What are the most common complications of ignoring hearing loss?
The dots will not be connected by most people 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 need to work extra hard to hear, it can drain your physical resources. Recall how tired you were at times in your life when your brain needed to be completely concentrated on a task for long time periods. You would most likely feel quite depleted when you’re done. The same thing occurs when you struggle to hear: your brain is trying to fill in the blanks you’re missing in conversations – which, when there’s enough background noise, is even harder – and simply attempting to process information consumes valuable energy. This type 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.
Decline of Brain Function
Hearing loss has been linked, by several Johns Hopkins University studies, to decreased brain functions , accelerated brain tissue loss, and dementia. Although these links are not causation, they’re correlations, researchers believe that, again, the more cognitive resources that are spent trying to fill in the blanks of a conversation, the less there are to give attention to other things like memorization and comprehension. And as people get older, the additional draw on cognitive resources can speed up the decline of other brain functions and worsen gray matter loss. In addition, having a regular exchange of information and ideas, usually through conversation, is believed to help seniors remain mentally fit and can help delay the process of mental decline. Luckily, cognitive specialist and hearing specialist can use the recognized connection between cognitive decline and hearing loss to collaborate to carry out research and establish treatments that are promising in the near future.
Mental Health Issues
The National Council on the Aging found, from a study of over two thousand senior citizens, that mental health issues that have a negative social and emotional impact, are more common if there is also neglected hearing loss. It is obvious that there’s a link between mental health and hearing loss problems since, in social and family situations, people who cope with hearing loss have a hard time interacting with others. This can lead to feelings of separation, which can eventually result in depression. Feelings of exclusion and separation can worsen to anxiety and even paranoia if neglected. Hearing aids have been proven to help in the recovery from depression, although anybody suffering from depression, anxiety, or paranoia should consult with a mental health professional.
If one portion of your body, which is a coordinated machine, stops working correctly, it might have an impact on seemingly unrelated bodily functions. This is the situation with our hearts and ears. Case in point, hearing loss will occur when blood doesn’t easily flow from the heart to the inner ear. Another affliction linked to heart disease is diabetes which also has an effect on the nerve endings of the inner ear and can cause the brain to receive scrambled information. Individuals who have detected some degree of hearing loss and who have a history of heart disease or diabetes in their families should consult with both a hearing and cardiac specialist to ascertain whether the hearing loss is actually caused by a heart condition, since overlooking the symptoms could lead to severe, possibly fatal repercussions.
If you want to start living a healthier life, reach out to us so we can help you address any adverse effects of hearing loss that you might suffer.