Man with cardiac condition also suffering from hearing loss.

It’s an unfortunate truth that hearing loss is part of the aging process. Approximately 38 million individuals cope with hearing loss in the U . S ., though many people decide to disregard it because they look at it as just a part of aging. Disregarding hearing loss, however, can have major adverse side effects on a person’s over-all well-being beyond their inability to hear.

Why is the choice to just ignore hearing loss one that many people consider? According to an AARP study, more than one-third of senior citizens consider hearing loss to be a minor problem that can be handled easily enough, while more than half of the respondents reported cost as a problem. However, those costs can go up incredibly when you factor in the significant side effects and ailments that are brought on by ignoring hearing loss. What are the most common complications of ignoring hearing loss?

Fatigue

The majority of people will not instantly connect the dots from fatigue to hearing loss. They will say, rather, that they are slowing down due to the side-effects of a medication or because they’re getting older. But actually, if you have to work extra hard to hear, it can deplete your physical resources. Imagine you are taking an exam such as the SAT where your brain is completely focused on processing the task in front of you. You would most likely feel fairly drained when you’re done. When you’re struggling to hear, it’s an equivalent situation: when there are blanks spots in conversation, your brain needs to work hard to fill in the missing information – which, when there’s too much background noise, is even harder – and consumes precious energy just attempting to process the conversation. Looking after yourself takes energy which you won’t have with this kind of chronic fatigue. To adjust, you will avoid life-essential routines such as working out or eating healthy.

Cognitive Decline

Numerous studies by Johns Hopkins University linked hearing loss to decreased brain functions , increased loss of brain tissue, and dementia. Even though these links are not causation, they’re correlations, it’s theorized by researchers that, again, the more cognitive resources that are spent trying to fill in the blanks of a conversation, the less there are to give attention to other things including comprehension and memorization. And as people age, the increased draw on cognitive resources can speed up the decline of other brain functions and contribute to loss of gray matter. Besides that, it’s believed that the process of cognitive decline can be lessened and mental wellness can be preserved by a continued exchange of ideas, normally through conversation. The fact that a connection between cognitive function and hearing loss was found is promising for future research since hearing and cognitive specialists can work together to narrow down the factors and create treatments for these ailments.

Mental Health Problems

The National Council on the Aging performed a study of 2,300 seniors 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 affected their emotional and social happiness. It makes sense that there’s a link between mental health and hearing loss problems since people who suffer from hearing loss often have difficulty communicating with other people in family or social situations. This can lead to feelings of isolation, which can eventually result in depression. Feelings of exclusion and isolation can escalate to anxiety and even paranoia if neglected. If you suffer from anxiety or depression, you should talk to a mental health professional and you also should know that hearing aids have been shown to help people recover from some types of depression.

Cardiovascular Disease

If one part of your body, which is a coordinated machine, stops working correctly, it could have an impact on apparently unrelated bodily functions. This is the situation with our hearts and ears. As a case in point, if blood flow from the heart to the inner ear is restricted, hearing loss may occur. Diabetes, which is also linked to heart disease, can impact the inner ear’s nerve endings and cause messages sent from the ear to the brain to get scrambled. People who have noticed some amount of hearing loss and who have a history of diabetes or heart disease in their families should consult with both a hearing and cardiac specialist to ascertain whether the hearing loss is indeed caused by a heart condition, since neglecting the symptoms might lead to severe, possibly fatal repercussions.

If you suffer from hearing loss or are experiencing any of the adverse effects listed above, please get in touch with us so we can help you have a healthier life.

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