Illini Hearing - Champaign and Mahomet, IL

Man with cardiac condition also suffering from hearing loss.

Loss of hearing is a normal part of the aging process, unfortunately. Roughly 38 million people suffer from some kind of hearing loss in the United States, though because hearing loss is expected as we age, many decide to ignore it. However, beyond a person’s ability to hear, their whole life can be negatively affected if they ignore their hearing loss.

Why do so many people choose to simply live with hearing loss? According to an AARP study, More than half of seniors cited costs as the major worry while one third regard hearing loss as a minor issue that can be easily treated. When you consider the conditions and significant side effects caused by neglecting hearing loss, however, the costs can go up dramatically. Here are the most prevalent negative effects of neglecting hearing loss.

Tiredness

Most people will not immediately connect the dots from fatigue to hearing loss. Alternatively, they will connect fatigue to a number of other factors, like slowing down based on getting older or a side-effect of medication. In reality, as your brain tries to compensate for sound it doesn’t hear, you’re left feeling exhausted. Visualize a task where you have to be totally concentrated like taking the SAT exam. You will most likely feel depleted once you’re done. The same thing occurs when you struggle to hear: your brain is doing work to fill in the blanks you’re missing in conversations – and if there is a lot of background noise this is even more difficult – and burns precious energy just attempting to process the conversation. This type of persistent exhaustion can impact your health by leaving you too run down to take care of yourself, leaving things like going to the gym or cooking healthy meals difficult to accomplish.

Mental Decline

Several studies by Johns Hopkins University linked hearing loss to , accelerated brain tissue loss, and dementia. Even though these links are correlations instead of causations, it’s believed by researchers the more the blanks need to be filled in by the brain, the more the cognitive resources needed and the less the resources available for other things such as comprehension and memory. The decrease of brain function is accelerated and there is a loss of grey matter with the additional draw on cognitive capacity that comes with getting older. In addition, having a regular exchange of ideas and information, often through conversation, is believed to help senior citizens stay mentally tuned and can help slow the process of cognitive decline. The discovery of a link between hearing loss and a decline in cognitive functions is encouraging for future research since cognitive and hearing specialists can work together to pinpoint the causes and formulate treatment options 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 family and social situations is common for those with hearing loss, the connection between mental health problems and hearing loss seems logical. This can result in depression after suffering from prolonged feelings of loneliness. Because of these feelings of exclusion and isolation, anxiety and even paranoia can be the consequence, specifically if neglected. It’s been shown that recovery from depression is assisted by wearing hearing aids. But a mental health professional should still be consulted if you suffer from paranoia, depression, or anxiety.

Heart Disease

All the parts of our bodies are one interconnected machine – an evidently unconnected part can be affected negatively if a different part stops functioning as it is supposed to. This is the case with our hearts and ears. For instance, hearing loss will occur when blood does not flow freely from the heart to the inner ear. Diabetes, which is also linked to heart disease, can impact the inner ear’s nerve endings and scramble messages from the ear to the brain. In order to find out 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 neglecting the symptoms can cause severe or even fatal consequences.

If you have loss of hearing or are having any of the negative effects listed above, please contact us so we can help you live a healthier life. Schedule your appointment now.

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