The unfortunate truth is, as you get older, your hearing starts to go. Approximately 38 million people in the U.S. deal with some kind of hearing loss, though because hearing loss is expected as we get older, many decide to just deal with it. But beyond how well you hear, disregarding hearing loss will have serious adverse side effects.
Why is the choice to simply cope with hearing loss one that lots of people choose? Based on an AARP study, more than one-third of senior citizens consider hearing loss to be a minor concern that can be handled fairly easily, while cost was a concern for more than half of those who took part in the study. However, those costs can go up astronomically when you take into account the serious adverse reactions and conditions that are brought on by neglecting hearing loss. What are the most prevalent challenges of ignoring hearing loss?
The majority of people won’t immediately put two and two together from fatigue to hearing loss. Instead, they will blame their fatigue on several different factors, like slowing down because of aging or a side-effect of medication. But actually, if you need to work harder to hear, it can deplete your physical resources. Think about taking a test like the SAT where your brain is entirely concentrated on processing the task at hand. You would most likely feel fairly drained after you’re finished. When you’re struggling to hear, it’s a similar scenario: when there are missing spots in conversation, your brain has to work extra hard to substitute the missing information – which, when there is enough background noise, is even harder – and uses up precious energy just trying to process the conversation. Looking after yourself requires 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.
Decline of Brain Function
Hearing loss has been linked, by a number of Johns Hopkins University studies, to decreased cognitive functions , accelerated brain tissue loss, and dementia. Even though these associations are not causation, they’re correlations, it’s believed by researchers that, once again, the more mental resources that are spent trying to fill in the blanks of a conversation, the less there are to give attention to other things including memorization and comprehension. And as people get older, the additional draw on mental resources can accelerate the decline of other brain functions and can lead to gray matter loss. Moreover, it’s believed that the process of cognitive decline can be slowed and mental fitness can be maintained by a continued exchange of ideas, normally through conversation. The fact that a link between cognitive function and hearing loss was found is encouraging for future research since hearing and cognitive specialists can work together to narrow down the causes and develop treatments for these conditions.
Mental Health Problems
The National Council on the Aging carried out a study of 2,300 seniors who suffered some form of hearing loss and found that those who left their condition untreated were more likely to also suffer from mental health issues such as depression, anxiety, and paranoia, which negatively impacted their social and emotional happiness. The link between mental health issues and hearing loss makes sense since people who suffer from hearing loss frequently have a hard time communicating with other people in family or social situations. This can lead to feelings of separation, which can ultimately lead to depression. If neglected, anxiety and even paranoia can surface as a result of these feelings of separation and exclusion. Hearing aids have been shown to help in the recovery from depression, although anyone suffering from depression, anxiety, or paranoia should talk to a mental health professional.
If one part of your body, which is a coordinated machine, stops functioning correctly, it could have an impact on seemingly unrelated bodily functions. This is the way it is with our hearts and ears. As a case in point, if blood flow from the heart to the inner ear is constrained, 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 detected some amount of hearing loss and who have a history of diabetes or heart disease in their families should contact 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 serious, possibly fatal repercussions.
If you have hearing loss or are going through any of the adverse effects listed above, please get in touch with us so we can help you live a healthier life.