The Negative Impact of Ignoring Hearing Loss

Man with cardiac condition also suffering from hearing loss.

Loss of hearing is a normal part of getting older, unfortunately. Roughly 38 million people in the United States have some form of hearing loss, though because hearing loss is expected as we get older, many people choose to leave it unchecked. However, beyond a person’s ability to hear, their whole life can be negatively impacted if they neglect their hearing loss.

Why do so many people decide to just live with hearing loss? According to an AARP study, more than one-third of senior citizens consider hearing loss to be a minor issue that can be dealt with easily enough, while more than half of the respondents cited cost as a worry. However, those costs can increase astronomically when you factor in the serious side effects and conditions that are brought on by neglecting hearing loss. Neglecting hearing loss has the following negative side effects.

Exhaustion

Most people will not immediately connect the dots from fatigue to hearing loss. They are often in denial and will attribute their fatigue on things like aging or a side-effect of medication. In actuality, as your brain attempts to compensate for sound it can’t hear, you’re left feeling exhausted. Visualize a task where you need to be completely concentrated like taking the SAT exam. You will probably feel depleted once you’re done. 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 noise this is even more overwhelming – and as you attempt to process the conversation, you use up precious energy. Your overall health can be impacted by this type of persistent exhaustion and you can be left so tired you keep yourself healthy, leaving things like going to the gym or cooking healthy meals difficult to accomplish.

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, researchers believe that the more cognitive resources spent attempting to fill in the blanks of a conversation, the less the resources available for other things such as comprehension and memory. The decline of brain function is accelerated and there is a loss of grey matter with the increased draw on cognitive ability that comes with aging. In addition, having a regular exchange of ideas and information, often through conversation, is thought to help seniors stay mentally fit and can help slow the process of cognitive decay. The future for researchers is encouraging due to the discovery of a connection between the decline in cognitive function and loss of hearing, since cognitive and hearing experts can team up to determine the causes and develop treatments for these ailments.

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 well being more often than those who don’t have hearing loss. Since problems communicating with others in social and family situations is typical for those with hearing loss, the link between mental health issues and hearing loss makes sense. This can bring on depression after suffering from persistent feelings of seclusion. If neglected, anxiety and even paranoia can surface due to these feelings of seclusion and exclusion. Hearing aids have been proven to assist 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 affected negatively if another part stops working as it is supposed to. This is the situation with our hearts and ears. As an example, when blood doesn’t flow freely from the heart to the inner ear, hearing loss will happen. Another disease that can affect 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 scrambled. People who have noticed some amount of hearing loss and who have a history of heart disease or diabetes in their families should seek advice from both a hearing and cardiac specialist to determine whether the hearing loss is indeed caused by a heart condition, since ignoring the symptoms could lead to serious, potentially fatal consequences.

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.