Illini Hearing - Champaign and Mahomet, IL

Man with cardiac condition also suffering from hearing loss.

It’s a regrettable truth that hearing loss is part of the aging process. Approximately 38 million individuals in the United States suffer from some form of hearing loss, though since hearing loss is expected as we age, many decide to ignore it. But beyond how well you hear, disregarding hearing loss will have serious adverse side effects.

Why is the decision to just live with hearing loss one that lots of people choose? According to an AARP study, more than one-third of senior citizens consider hearing loss to be a minor concern that can be handled easily enough, while more than half of the respondents cited cost as a problem. However, those costs can rise incredibly when you take into account the serious side effects and conditions that are triggered by neglecting hearing loss. Here are the most common adverse consequences of ignoring hearing loss.

Fatigue

Most people won’t instantly put two and two together from fatigue to hearing loss. They will say, rather, that they are slowing down due to the side-effects of a medication or because they’re getting older. But in reality, if you need to work harder to hear, it can drain your physical resources. Think about taking a test like the SAT where your brain is totally concentrated on processing the task at hand. Once you’re finished, you probably feel exhausted. When you are struggling to hear, it’s an equivalent scenario: when there are missing spots in conversation, your brain needs to work extra hard to substitute the missing information – which is often made even more difficult when there’s a lot of background noise – and just trying to process information consumes valuable energy. Looking after yourself requires energy that you won’t have with this type of chronic fatigue. To adjust, you will skip life-essential activities such as working out or eating healthy.

Decline of Brain Function

Countless studies by Johns Hopkins University linked hearing loss to reduced brain functions , increased brain tissue loss, and dementia. While these connections are correlations, instead of causations, it’s theorized by researchers that, again, the more mental resources that are used attempting to fill in the blanks of a conversation, the less there are to give attention to other things including comprehension and memorization. And as people age, the increased draw on mental resources can accelerate the decline of other brain functions and contribute to gray matter loss. Besides that, it’s believed that the process of cognitive decline can be lessened and mental wellness can be maintained by sustained exchange of ideas, usually through conversation. The fact that a link between cognitive function and hearing loss was found is promising for future research since hearing and cognitive specialists can collaborate to pinpoint the factors and develop treatment options for these ailments.

Issues With Mental Health

The National Council on the Aging performed a study of 2,300 seniors who were dealing with some form of hearing loss and discovered that individuals who neglected their condition were more likely to also be dealing with mental health issues such as depression, anxiety, and paranoia, which negatively impacted their emotional and social well-being. The link between mental health issues and hearing loss makes sense since, in family and social situations, individuals who cope with hearing loss have a difficult time interacting with others. Ultimately, feelings of separation could develop into depression. If left untreated, anxiety and even paranoia can appear as a result of these feelings of separation and exclusion. Hearing aids have been shown to help in the recovery from depression, although anybody suffering from depression, anxiety, or paranoia should consult with a mental health professional.

Heart Disease

If one part of your body, which is a coordinated machine, stops working properly, it could have an impact on apparently unrelated bodily functions. This is the situation with our hearts and ears. For instance, hearing loss will occur when blood does not flow easily 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 sometimes causes the brain to get scrambled signals. If heart disease is ignored severe or even potentially fatal consequences can occur. So if you’ve noticed some hearing loss and have a history of heart disease or heart disease in your family you should contact both a cardiac and hearing specialist in order to figure out whether your hearing loss is connected to a heart condition.

If you deal with hearing loss or are going through any of the negative effects listed above, please get in touch with us so we can help you live a healthier life.

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