Man with cardiac condition also suffering from hearing loss.

Hearing loss is a normal part of the aging process, unfortunately. Approximately 38 million people suffer from some kind of hearing loss in the United States, but because hearing loss is expected as we get older, many choose to leave it unchecked. Ignoring hearing loss, however, can have serious negative side effects on a person’s entire well-being beyond their inability to hear.

Why do so many people resist getting help for their hearing loss? According to an AARP study, more than one-third of seniors think of hearing loss as a minor issue that can be dealt with easily enough, while more than half of the respondents cited cost as a worry. When you factor in the conditions and serious side effects caused by ignoring hearing loss, however, the costs can rise dramatically. Ignoring hearing loss has the following negative side effects.

Low Energy

Most people will not immediately connect the dots from fatigue to hearing loss. They are often in denial and will blame their fatigue on things like getting older or a side-effect of medication. The reality is that the less you are able to hear, the more your body works to compensate, leaving you feeling tired. 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 most likely feel depleted. When you struggle to hear, the same thing occurs: your brain is working to fill in the blanks you’re missing in conversations – which is generally made even more difficult when there is a lot of background sound – and uses up precious energy just attempting to process the conversation. This type of persistent exhaustion can affect your health by leaving you too tired to keep yourself healthy, passing up on things like going to the gym or cooking healthy meals.

Cognitive Decline

Several studies by Johns Hopkins University linked hearing loss to , accelerated brain tissue loss, and dementia. While these connections are not direct causations, they are correlations, 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 like memory and comprehension. And as people get older, the greater drain on cognitive resources can accelerate the decrease of other brain functions and contribute to gray matter loss. Additionally, having a regular exchange of information and ideas, often through conversation, is believed to help seniors stay mentally fit and can help slow the process of cognitive decay. The fact that a link was discovered between hearing loss and a decline in cognitive functions is encouraging for future research since the causes of these ailments can be pinpointed and treatments can be formulated when cognitive and hearing experts work together.

Mental Health Issues

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 loss of hearing and mental health issues makes sense since people with loss of hearing often have trouble communicating with others in social or family scenarios. This can lead to feelings of isolation, which can eventually result in depression. Because of these feelings of exclusion and solitude, anxiety and even paranoia can be the result, particularly if left untreated. Hearing aids have been shown to assist in the recovery from depression, however, anyone who has depression, anxiety, or paranoia should seek advice from 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 functioning as it should. This is the situation with our ears and hearts. As an example, when blood doesn’t flow freely from the heart to the inner ear, hearing loss will occur. 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 mixed up. In order to ascertain whether loss of hearing is caused by heart disease or diabetes, if you have a family history of those illnesses consult with both a hearing expert and a cardiac specialist because ignoring the symptoms can lead to serious or possibly even fatal repercussions.

Please contact us if you are experiencing any of the negative effects outlined above or if you suffer from hearing loss so we can help you live a healthier life. Schedule your appointment now.