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. Roughly 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. Neglecting hearing loss, however, can have severe negative side effects on a person’s overall health beyond their inability to hear.

Why do many people choose to just live with hearing loss? According to an AARP study, more than one-third of seniors think of hearing loss as a minor problem that can be dealt with easily enough, while more than half of the participants cited cost as a concern. When you consider the conditions and significant side effects caused by neglecting hearing loss, however, the costs can increase astronomically. Ignoring hearing loss has the following negative side effects.

Fatigue

Most people will not immediately connect the dots from fatigue to hearing loss. Instead, they will attribute tiredness to several different factors, like slowing down based on aging or a side-effect of medication. In actuality, as your brain tries to make up for sound it doesn’t hear, you’re left feeling depleted. Visualize a task where you need to be completely concentrated like taking the SAT exam. You will likely feel depleted once you’re done. The same thing happens when you struggle to hear: your brain is doing work to fill in the blanks you’re missing in conversations – which is often made much more difficult when there is a lot of background sound – and as you try to process the information, you deplete precious energy. This type of persistent exhaustion can impact your health by leaving you too tired to keep yourself healthy, leaving things like going to the gym or cooking healthy meals hard 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 correlations instead of causations, researchers think that the more cognitive resources expended attempting to fill in the blanks of a conversation, the less the resources available for other things such as comprehension and memory. And as people get older, the increased drain on cognitive resources can speed up the decrease of other brain functions and contribute to gray matter loss. The process of cognitive decline can be reduced and seniors can stay mentally fit by the regular exchange of ideas through conversation. 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 determined and treatment options can be formulated when hearing and cognitive 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 impacted the emotional health more often than those who don’t have hearing loss. Since difficulty communicating with others in family and social situations is typical 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 lead to depression. If neglected, anxiety and even paranoia can surface due to these feelings of loneliness and exclusion. 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

All the parts of our bodies are one interconnected machine – an apparently unconnected part can be impacted negatively if a different part quits functioning as it is supposed to. This is the case with our hearts and ears. For instance, hearing loss will take place when blood doesn’t flow easily from the heart to the inner ear. Diabetes, which is also linked to heart disease, can affect the inner ear’s nerve endings and scramble messages from the ear to the brain. 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 triggered by a heart condition, since ignoring the symptoms could lead to serious, potentially fatal repercussions.

Please reach out to us if you are experiencing any of the negative effects listed above or if you suffer from loss of hearing so we can help you live a healthier life. Make your appointment for a hearing test.