The regrettable reality is, as you get older, your hearing begins to fail. Approximately 38 million individuals in the U.S. suffer from some kind of hearing loss, but because hearing loss is anticipated as we age, many people choose to ignore it. But beyond the ability to hear, ignoring hearing loss will have severe adverse side effects.
Why is the decision to simply cope with hearing loss one that lots of people consider? Based on an AARP study, more than one-third of senior citizens think of hearing loss as a minor problem that can be handled fairly easily, while cost was a worry for more than half of people who participated in the study. The consequences of ignoring hearing loss, though, can be a lot higher due to conditions and adverse reactions that come with leaving it untreated. Here are the most likely negative consequences of ignoring hearing loss.
The majority of people will not immediately connect the dots 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 need to work harder to hear, it can drain your physical resources. Think about taking a test such as the SAT where your brain is entirely concentrated on processing the task at hand. Once you’re finished, you likely feel drained. The same situation happens when you struggle to hear: your brain is working to fill in the blanks you’re missing in conversations – which, when there is too much background noise, is even harder – and consumes precious energy just attempting to manage the conversation. Looking after yourself takes energy which you won’t have with this kind of chronic exhaustion. To adjust, you will skip life-essential routines like working out or eating healthy.
Decline of Brain Function
Hearing loss has been connected, by numerous Johns Hopkins University studies, to diminishe brain functions , increased brain tissue loss, and dementia. While these connections are correlations, instead of causations, scientists believe that, once again, the more cognitive resources that are used trying to fill in the blanks of a conversation, the less you have to focus on other things like comprehension and memorization. And as people get older, the increased draw on mental resources can speed up the decline of other brain functions and can lead to loss of gray matter. What’s more, having a routine exchange of ideas and information, often through conversation, is believed to help seniors remain mentally fit and can help slow the process of mental decline. The fact that a link between cognitive function and hearing loss was found is promising for future research since hearing and cognitive specialists can work together to pinpoint the causes and develop treatment options for these ailments.
Issues With Mental Health
The National Council on the Aging conducted a study of 2,300 senior citizens who suffered some form of hearing loss and found that individuals who neglected their condition were more likely to also suffer from mental health problems including depression, anxiety, and paranoia, which negatively impacted their emotional and social well-being. The connection between mental health issues and hearing loss makes sense since people with hearing loss often have difficulty communicating with others in family or social situations. This can result in feelings of isolation, which can ultimately lead to depression. Feelings of exclusion and separation can worsen to anxiety and even paranoia if left untreated. Hearing aids have been proven to aid in the recovery from depression, though anyone suffering from depression, anxiety, or paranoia should talk to a mental health professional.
Our bodies are one coordinated machine – if one component stops working like it should, it might have a detrimental impact on another seemingly unrelated part. 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 may happen. Diabetes, which is also connected to heart disease, can impact the inner ear’s nerve endings and cause information sent from the ear to the brain to become scrambled. People who have detected 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 indeed caused by a heart condition, since ignoring the symptoms might lead to severe, possibly fatal consequences.
If you suffer from hearing loss or are going through any of the adverse effects listed above, please contact us for a consultation so we can help you live a healthier life.