The Negative Impact of Ignoring Hearing Loss

Man with cardiac condition also suffering from hearing loss.

It’s a regrettable fact of life that loss of hearing is part of getting older. Approximately 38 million people suffer from some kind of hearing loss in the United States, but a lot of people choose to just ignore it because it’s a normal part of getting older. Ignoring hearing loss, however, can have serious negative side effects on a person’s overall health beyond their inability to hear.

Why do so many people choose to simply live with hearing loss? According to an AARP study, More than half of seniors cited costs as the major concern while one third regard hearing loss as a small issue that can be easily treated. When you factor in the conditions and significant side effects caused by neglecting hearing loss, however, the costs can increase astronomically. Here are the most common negative effects of ignoring hearing loss.

Low Energy

Most people will not immediately connect the dots from fatigue to hearing loss. Instead, they will connect exhaustion to several other factors, such as slowing down due to getting older or a side-effect of medication. In truth, as your brain tries to make up for sound it can’t hear, you’re left feeling exhausted. Visualize a task where you have to be completely focused like taking the SAT test. After you’re finished, you likely feel exhausted. When you struggle to hear, the same thing occurs: your brain is doing work to fill in the blanks you’re missing in conversations – and if there is a lot of background noise this is even more difficult – and uses up valuable energy just trying to process the discussion. This type of chronic exhaustion can impact your health by leaving you too run down to take care of yourself, leaving things like going to the gym or cooking healthy meals difficult to accomplish.

Cognitive Decline

Johns Hopkins University conducted a study that linked hearing loss to , accelerated brain tissue loss, and dementia. Although these connections are correlations instead of causations, it’s thought by researchers that the more cognitive resources used attempting to fill in the blanks of a conversation, the less the resources available for other things such as memory and comprehension. And as people age, the greater drain on cognitive resources can accelerate the decline of other brain functions and contribute to gray matter loss. The process of cognitive decline can be slowed and senior citizens can stay mentally fit by the regular exchange of ideas through conversation. The future for researchers is encouraging due to the discovery of a connection between the decrease in cognitive function and hearing loss, since hearing and cognitive specialists can work together to determine the causes and formulate treatment options for these ailments.

Issues With Your Mental Health

The National Council on the Aging conducted a study of 2,300 seniors who suffered some form of hearing loss and discovered that paranoia, anxiety, and depression negatively impacted the emotional health more often than those who don’t have hearing loss. The link between hearing loss and mental health problems makes sense since those with loss of hearing often have trouble communicating with others in social or family scenarios. This can lead to depression after suffering from prolonged feelings of loneliness. If left untreated, anxiety and even paranoia can appear due to these feelings of isolation and exclusion. It’s been demonstrated that recovery from depression is aided by wearing hearing aids. But a mental health professional should still be consulted if you suffer from paranoia, depression, or anxiety.

Heart Disease

Our bodies are one interconnected machine – if one part stops functioning the way it’s supposed to, it might have a negative impact on another apparently unrelated part. This is the situation with our ears and hearts. As an example, when blood doesn’t flow freely from the heart to the inner ear, hearing loss will happen. Diabetes, which is also linked to heart disease, can impact the inner ear’s nerve endings and scramble messages from the ear to the brain. In order to determine whether hearing loss is caused by heart disease or diabetes, if you have a family history of those illnesses consult both a hearing expert and a cardiac specialist because ignoring the symptoms can cause severe or even fatal repercussions.

If you have hearing loss or are having any of the negative effects outlined above, please reach out to us so we can help you live a healthier life. Make your appointment for a hearing test.

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