Man with cardiac condition also suffering from hearing loss.

It’s an unfortunate 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, though since hearing loss is expected as we age, many decide to leave it unchecked. Ignoring hearing loss, however, can have serious negative side effects on a person’s entire health beyond their inability to hear.

Why do so many people choose to just live with hearing loss? According to an AARP study, more than one-third of senior citizens 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 rise astronomically. Here are the most prevalent negative effects of ignoring hearing loss.

Tiredness

Most people will not immediately connect the dots from fatigue to hearing loss. They are commonly in denial and will blame their fatigue on things such as getting older or a side-effect of medication. In reality, as your brain attempts to compensate for sound it can’t hear, you’re left feeling exhausted. Imagine you are taking an exam such as the SAT where your brain is totally focused on processing the task at hand. After you’re finished, you probably feel drained. When you struggle to hear, the same thing happens: during conversations, your brain is trying to fill in the blanks – which is generally made even more difficult when there is a lot of background noise – and burns precious energy just attempting to process the discussion. Your health can be affected by this type of persistent exhaustion and you can be left so run down you can’t take good care of yourself, passing up on things like going to the gym or cooking healthy meals.

Mental Decline

Johns Hopkins University conducted a study that linked hearing loss to , accelerated brain tissue loss, and dementia. Even though these links are not direct causations, they are correlations, it’s believed by researchers that the more cognitive resources spent attempting to fill in the blanks of a conversation, the less you’ll have to focus on other things such as memorization and comprehension. The decline of brain function is sped up and there is a loss of grey matter with the additional draw on cognitive capacity that comes with getting older. Also, having a frequent exchange of information and ideas, often through conversation, is believed to help seniors stay mentally fit and can help reduce the process of cognitive decay. The discovery of a link between loss of hearing and a loss of cognitive functions is encouraging for future research since cognitive and hearing experts can work together to identify the causes and develop treatment options for these conditions.

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. The connection between hearing loss and mental health issues makes sense since those with loss of hearing often have trouble communicating with others in social or family situations. This can result in depression after suffering from persistent feelings of isolation. If neglected, anxiety and even paranoia can surface due to these feelings of isolation and exclusion. It’s been shown that recovery from depression is helped by hearing aids. But a mental health professional should still be contacted if you suffer from depression, anxiety, or paranoia.

Heart Disease

All the different parts of our bodies are one interconnected machine – an apparently unconnected part can be impacted negatively if another part stops working as it is supposed to. This is the situation with our ears and hearts. As an example, when blood doesn’t flow easily from the heart to the inner ear, loss of hearing will happen. 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. People who have noticed some degree of hearing loss and who have a history of heart disease or diabetes in their families should seek advice from both a cardiac and hearing specialist to determine whether the hearing loss is indeed triggered by a heart condition, since ignoring the symptoms could lead to serious, possibly fatal consequences.

If you suffer from loss of hearing or are experiencing any of the negative effects outlined 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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