McDonald Hearing Services - Grand Rapids, MI

Man with cardiac condition also suffering from hearing loss.

The regrettable reality is, as you get older, your hearing begins to go. Roughly 38 million individuals in the United States deal with some kind of hearing loss, though since hearing loss is expected as we age, many choose to ignore it. Ignoring hearing loss, however, can have significant adverse side effects on a person’s general well-being beyond their inability to hear.

Why do many people choose to simply deal with hearing loss? Based on an AARP study, hearing loss is, according to a third of senior citizens, a concern that’s minor and can be managed easily, while cost was a concern for more than half of those who participated in the study. However, those costs can rise astronomically when you take into account the serious side effects and conditions that are triggered by neglecting hearing loss. Here are the most likely negative effects of neglecting hearing loss.

Fatigue

The dots will not be connected by most people from fatigue to hearing loss. They will say, instead, that they are slowing down because of the side-effects of a medication or because they’re getting older. The fact is that the less you can hear, the more your body works to make up for it, leaving you feeling exhausted. Imagine you are taking a test like the SAT where your brain is completely focused on processing the task in front of you. You would most likely feel quite drained when you’re done. The same situation occurs when you struggle to hear: when there are missing spots in conversation, your brain needs to work hard to substitute the missing information – which is often made even more difficult when there’s lots of background noise – and simply attempting to process information consumes precious energy. Taking care of yourself requires energy which you won’t have with this type of chronic exhaustion. To adapt, you will avoid life-essential routines such as working out or eating healthy.

Decline of Brain Function

Several studies by Johns Hopkins University linked hearing loss to diminishe cognitive functions , accelerated loss of brain tissue, and dementia. Although these links are not causation, they’re correlations, it’s believed by researchers that, once again, the more frequently you need to fill in the conversational blanks, which consumes cognitive resources, the less you have to give attention to other things including memorization and comprehension. And as people get older, the additional draw on mental resources can accelerate the decline of other brain functions and worsen gray matter loss. In addition, engaging in a regular exchange of information and ideas, often through conversation, is thought to help seniors stay mentally fit and can help decrease the process of mental decline. 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 pinpoint the factors and develop treatment options for these ailments.

Issues With Mental Health

The National Council on the Aging carried out a study of 2,300 senior citizens who suffered some form of hearing loss and discovered that individuals who neglected their condition were more likely to also be dealing with mental health issues including depression, anxiety, and paranoia, which negatively affected their emotional and social well-being. The link between hearing loss and mental health issues makes sense since people who suffer from hearing loss frequently have difficulty communicating with others in family or social situations. Ultimately, feelings of separation could become depression. If neglected, anxiety and even paranoia can surface due to these feelings of solitude and exclusion. If you suffer from anxiety or depression, you should contact 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

Our bodies are one coordinated machine – if one component stops functioning as it should, it might have a negative affect on another apparently unrelated part. This is the case with our hearts and ears. For instance, hearing loss will happen when blood does not easily flow from the heart to the inner ear. Diabetes, which is also linked to heart disease, can affect the inner ear’s nerve endings and cause information sent from the ear to the brain to get scrambled. If heart disease is neglected serious or even potentially fatal consequences can happen. So if you’ve noticed some hearing loss and you have a history of diabetes or heart disease in your family you should consult both a cardiac and hearing specialist in order to figure out if your hearing loss is linked to a heart condition.

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

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