It’s a regrettable fact of life that hearing loss is part of the aging process. Roughly 38 million individuals suffer from hearing loss in the United States, though many choose to ignore it because they look at it as just a part of getting older. But beyond how well you hear, disregarding hearing loss can have serious negative side effects.
Why do many people decide to just accept hearing loss? Based on an AARP study, more than one-third of senior citizens think of hearing loss as a minor concern that can be handled fairly easily, while more than half of the respondents cited cost as a concern. The consequences of ignoring hearing loss, however, can become a great deal higher as a result of complications and adverse reactions that come with ignoring it. What are the most common challenges of ignoring hearing loss?
Most people won’t instantly connect the dots from fatigue to hearing loss. Instead, they will attribute fatigue to several different ideas, such as slowing down due to aging or a side-effect of medication. But in reality, if you need to work extra hard to hear, it can deplete your physical resources. Recall how tired you were at times in your life when your brain had to be totally concentrated on a task for long periods of time. Once you’re done, you probably feel exhausted. When you are struggling to hear, it’s a similar scenario: your brain is working to fill in the blanks you’re missing in conversations – which is often made even more difficult when there is a lot of background noise – and just attempting to process information uses precious energy. Taking care of yourself takes energy which you won’t have with this type of chronic exhaustion. To adjust, you will avoid life-essential activities like working out or eating healthy.
Numerous studies by Johns Hopkins University connected hearing loss to decreased cognitive functions , accelerated brain tissue loss, and dementia. While these links are correlations, not causations, scientists think that, once again, the more often you need to fill in the conversational blanks, which consumes cognitive resources, the less there are to give attention to other things like comprehension and memorization. And declining brain function, as we age is, directly connected to an additional draw on our cognitive resources. What’s more, engaging in a routine exchange of information and ideas, often through conversation, is believed to help seniors remain mentally fit and can help decrease the process of cognitive decline. Fortunately, cognitive specialist and hearing specialist can use the known connection between cognitive decline and hearing loss to work together to undertake research and establish treatments that are promising in the near future.
Issues With Mental Health
The National Council on the Aging discovered, from a study of over two thousand seniors, that mental health problems that have a negative emotional and social impact, are more prevalent if there is also neglected hearing loss. It makes sense that there’s a connection between hearing loss and mental health problems since, in social and family situations, individuals who suffer from hearing loss have a difficult time interacting with others. This can result in feelings of separation, which can eventually result in depression. If left untreated, anxiety and even paranoia can appear as a result of these feelings of isolation and exclusion. If you are dealing with anxiety or depression, you need to consult a mental health professional and you should also be aware that hearing aids have been proven to help people recover from some types of depression.
Our bodies are one coordinated machine – if one component stops working like it is supposed to, it might have a detrimental impact on another apparently unrelated part. This is the case with our hearts and ears. For instance, hearing loss will happen when blood does not easily flow from the heart to the inner ear. Another condition associated with heart disease is diabetes which also impacts the nerve endings of the inner ear and can cause the brain to get scrambled signals. If heart disease is ignored serious or even potentially fatal repercussions can occur. So if you have detected some hearing loss and have a history of diabetes or heart disease in your family you should seek advice from both a cardiac and hearing specialist in order to determine whether your hearing loss is linked to a heart condition.
If you deal with hearing loss or are going through any of the negative repercussions listed above, please contact us for a consultation so we can help you have a healthier life.