Man with cardiac condition also suffering from hearing loss.

It’s a regrettable fact of life that hearing loss is part of getting older. Roughly 38 million people suffer from some kind of hearing loss in the United States, but because hearing loss is expected as we get older, many people decide to ignore it. However, beyond a person’s ability to hear, their entire life can be negatively affected if they neglect their hearing loss.

Why do so many people refuse to get help for their hearing loss? According to an AARP study, more than one-third of seniors think of hearing loss as a minor problem that can be managed easily enough, while more than half of the respondents cited cost as a worry. When you consider the conditions and significant side effects caused by ignoring hearing loss, however, the costs can rise dramatically. Neglecting hearing loss has the following negative side effects.

Exhaustion

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 compensate for sound it doesn’t hear, you’re left feeling fatigued. Imagine you are taking an exam like the SAT where your brain is completely concentrated on processing the task at hand. You will most likely feel drained once you finish. The same thing happens when you struggle to hear: during conversations, your brain is working to fill in the blanks – and when there is a lot of background sound this is even more difficult – and spends valuable energy just attempting to process the conversation. This type of persistent fatigue can affect your health by leaving you too run down to keep yourself healthy, passing up on things like going to the gym or cooking healthy meals.

Cognitive Decline

Several studies by Johns Hopkins University linked hearing loss to , accelerated brain tissue loss, and dementia. Even though these connections are not direct causations, they are correlations, it’s thought by researchers that the more cognitive resources expended attempting to fill in the blanks of a conversation, the less there are to dedicate to other things such as comprehension and memorization. The decline of brain function is accelerated and there is a loss of grey matter with the additional draw on cognitive capacity that comes with aging. The process of cognitive decline can be slowed down and seniors can stay mentally fit by the regular exchange of ideas through conversation. The discovery of a link between loss of hearing and a decline in cognitive functions is promising for future research since the causes of these conditions can be determined and treatment options can be formulated when cognitive and hearing experts team up.

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 people who neglected their hearing condition had mental health troubles such as depression, anxiety, and paranoia, which negatively impacted their emotional and social well-being. Since trouble communicating with others in social and family situations is normal for those with hearing loss, the connection between mental health issues and hearing loss seems logical. This can cause feelings of seclusion, which can eventually result in depression. Due to these feelings of exclusion and isolation, anxiety and even paranoia can be the result, specifically if left untreated. Hearing aids have been proven to help in the recovery from depression, however, anyone suffering from depression, anxiety, or paranoia should consult with a mental health professional.

Heart Disease

Our bodies are one interconnected machine – if one part quits working as it should, it might have a negative impact on another seemingly unrelated part. This is the situation with our ears and hearts. For instance, hearing loss will take place when blood does not flow easily from the heart to the inner ear. Another disease that can impact the inner ear’s nerve ending, and is also connected to heart disease is diabetes which causes messages from the ear to the brain to be mixed up. In order to ascertain whether hearing loss is caused by heart disease or diabetes, if you have a family history of those illnesses consult with both a hearing expert and a cardiac specialist because neglecting the symptoms can result in serious or possibly even fatal repercussions.

Please contact us if you are experiencing any of the negative effects listed above or if you have loss of hearing so we can help you live a healthier life. Schedule your appointment now.