Man with cardiac condition also suffering from hearing loss.

The unfortunate reality is, as you age, your hearing begins to fail. Approximately 38 million people in the U.S. suffer from some form of hearing loss, though since hearing loss is anticipated as we get older, many people decide to ignore it. Neglecting hearing loss, though, can have major negative side effects on a person’s entire well-being beyond their inability to hear.

Why is the decision to just cope with hearing loss one that many people choose? According to an AARP study, more than one-third of senior citizens think of hearing loss as a minor issue that can be dealt with easily enough, while cost was a concern for more than half of those who took part in the study. The consequences of neglecting hearing loss, however, can be a lot higher due to conditions and side effects that come with leaving it untreated. What are the most prevalent complications of neglecting hearing loss?

Fatigue

Most people will not immediately connect the dots from fatigue to hearing loss. They will say, instead, that they are slowing down due to the side-effects of a medication or because they’re getting older. But actually, if you need to work extra hard to hear, it can drain your physical resources. Imagine you are taking an exam like the SAT where your brain is completely focused on processing the task at hand. Once you’re finished, you likely feel exhausted. When you are struggling to hear, it’s an equivalent situation: your brain is working to fill in the blanks you’re missing in conversations – which, when there’s too much background noise, is even more difficult – and just trying to process information consumes valuable energy. Taking care of yourself takes energy that you won’t have with this kind of chronic exhaustion. To adjust, you will avoid life-essential activities like working out or eating healthy.

Decline of Brain Function

Several studies by Johns Hopkins University connected hearing loss to reduced cognitive functions , increased brain tissue loss, and dementia. While these links are correlations, not causations, it’s believed by researchers that, once again, the more often you need to fill in the conversational blanks, which consumes cognitive resources, the less there are to focus on other things like comprehension and memorization. And decreasing brain function, as we age is, directly linked to an additional draw on our cognitive resources. In addition, engaging in a routine exchange of information and ideas, often through conversation, is believed to help seniors remain mentally fit and can help decrease the process of mental decline. Luckily, cognitive specialist and hearing specialist can use the recognized link between cognitive decline and hearing loss to work together to carry out research and develop treatments that are encouraging in the near future.

Mental Health Issues

The National Council on the Aging discovered, from a study of more than two thousand senior citizens, that mental health problems that have a negative emotional and social impact, are more common if there is also untreated hearing loss. The link between hearing loss and mental health issues seems logical since, in family and social situations, individuals who cope with hearing loss have a hard time communicating with others. This can lead to feelings of separation, which can ultimately result in depression. Feelings of exclusion and isolation can worsen to anxiety and even paranoia if left untreated. If you are dealing with anxiety or depression, you need to consult a mental health professional and you should also be aware that hearing aids have been shown to help people recover from some types of depression.

Heart Disease

Our bodies are one coordinated machine – if one part stops working as it should, it might have a detrimental affect on another apparently unrelated part. This is the situation with our hearts and ears. For instance, hearing loss will happen when blood does not easily flow from the heart to the inner ear. Another condition associated with heart disease is diabetes which also impacts the nerve endings of the inner ear and can cause the brain to get scrambled signals. If heart disease is neglected serious or even potentially fatal consequences can occur. So if you’ve detected some hearing loss and have a history of heart disease or heart disease in your family you should seek advice from both a cardiac and hearing specialist so that you can determine if your hearing loss is connected to a heart condition.

If you want to start living a healthier life, reach out to us so we can help you solve any adverse effects of hearing loss that you may suffer.

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