Man with cardiac condition also suffering from hearing loss.

Hearing loss is a normal part of getting older, unfortunately. Approximately 38 million people suffer from some kind of hearing loss in the United States, but a lot of people decide to just neglect it because it’s a normal part of aging. However, beyond a person’s ability to hear, their overall health can be negatively affected if they neglect their hearing loss.

Why do many people decide to simply live with hearing loss? According to an AARP study, more than one-third of seniors think of hearing loss as a minor issue that can be managed easily enough, while more than half of the respondents cited cost as a worry. When you factor in the conditions and significant side effects caused by ignoring hearing loss, however, the costs can increase dramatically. Neglecting hearing loss has the following negative side effects.

Tiredness

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 based on 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 drained. Imagine you are taking a test like the SAT where your brain is totally focused on processing the task at hand. After you’re done, you most likely feel depleted. The same thing happens when you struggle to hear: your brain is working to fill in the blanks you’re missing in conversations – and if there is a lot of background sound this is even more overwhelming – and as you try to process the information, you spend valuable energy. Your health can be affected by this type of chronic exhaustion and you can be left so run down you can’t take good care of yourself, leaving things like cooking healthy meals or going to the gym difficult to accomplish.

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 believed by researchers the more the blanks need to be filled in by the brain, the more the cognitive resources needed and the less the resources available for other things such as comprehension and memory. The decrease of brain function is sped up and there is a loss of grey matter with the increased draw on cognitive capacity that comes with getting older. Additionally, having a regular exchange of ideas and information, often through conversation, is believed to help senior citizens stay mentally tuned and can help slow the process of cognitive decay. The future for researchers is promising due to the discovery of a link between the decline in cognitive function and loss of hearing, since the causes of these ailments can be identified and treatment options can be formulated when cognitive and hearing specialist work together.

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 affected the emotional well being more often than those who don’t have hearing loss. Since trouble communicating with others in family and social situations is normal for those with hearing loss, the link between mental health problems and hearing loss makes sense. This can cause feelings of seclusion, which can eventually lead to depression. If left untreated, anxiety and even paranoia can appear due to these feelings of seclusion and exclusion. Hearing aids have been shown to aid in the recovery from depression, however, anyone who has depression, anxiety, or paranoia should consult with a mental health professional.

Heart Disease

All the parts of our bodies are one interconnected machine – an evidently unconnected part can be impacted negatively if a different part stops functioning as it should. This is the situation with our hearts and ears. For instance, hearing loss will occur when blood doesn’t flow easily from the heart to the inner ear. Another disease that can impact the inner ear’s nerve ending, and is also linked to heart disease is diabetes which causes messages from the ear to the brain to be scrambled. In order to find out whether hearing loss is caused by heart disease or diabetes, if you have a family history of those illnesses contact both a hearing expert and a cardiac specialist because ignoring the symptoms can cause severe or possibly even fatal repercussions.

If you have loss of hearing or are experiencing any of the negative effects listed above, feel free to contact us so we can help you live a healthier life. Make your appointment for a hearing test.

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