4 Ways Hearing Loss Affects Your Well-Being

Hearing impairment affects more than one in ten people in the United States. It’s the most common kind of sensory processing dysfunction. But did you know that hearing loss can affect multiple body functions and alter your overall sense of well-being? In this article, we’ll explain how hearing loss can affect your cognition, mental state, coordination, and energy levels.

So What Exactly is Hearing Loss?

Hearing loss is a diagnosable condition of the peripheral auditory system. Someone has hearing loss when they have a problem with how their peripheral auditory system transmits sound to their brain. When damaged, the system cannot convert sound energy into electrical impulses that move into the central auditory system up to the brain. This typically results in someone being unable to hear soft or quiet sounds.

How Can Hearing Loss Affect Your Life?

Hearing is a sense you wouldn’t immediately link with other health issues. Yet, there is a connection between hearing health and overall wellness. There is a direct link between our auditory system and the nervous system, and the nervous system can suffer if that link is broken. But that’s not all. We are social beings. Part of living a fulfilling life is being able to connect with other human beings in a meaningful way. So how can hearing loss affect your overall well-being?

1. Cognitive Function

We mentioned earlier that hearing loss prevents sounds from converting to the neural impulses our brain uses. As a result, parts of the brain that process speech start to atrophy from being deprived of the stimulation it uses to function normally. This sensory deprivation can’t be good for your cognitive function and could accelerate the aging process.

Studies have even linked hearing loss with dementia. In 2017, the Lancet Commission put together a list of modifiable risk factors for dementia. Treating hearing loss by midlife was #1.

What’s worse is hearing loss can seem like a memory problem. A person with hearing loss may appear forgetful, but you can’t remember what you don’t hear! Therefore, ruling out a hearing loss is essential in determining if a memory problem is present.

2. Mental Health

Perhaps the most difficult part about hearing loss is its toll on your mental health. The challenges associated with being unable to hear can affect your quality of life. We often hear of our patients’ genuine struggles resulting from hearing loss. Arguments with family, disagreements over the TV volume, and nervousness over meeting new people are some examples of the stress and anxiety hearing loss adds to their life. Finally, after a while, they just want to stay home because it’s easier. This leads to isolation and depression.

3. Coordination

Another less obvious side effect of hearing loss is its effect on balance and coordination. When someone has hearing loss, one of our five senses is impaired. All five of our senses work together to give our brains information about our environment. When our sense of hearing doesn’t match our other senses, it can confuse our brains, and then our brains must work harder to make sense of what’s happening around us. For example, sounds help us determine the direction and distance of things around us. If we cannot hear sounds around us, we’re more likely to misjudge where things are in our environment.

4. Fatigue

This one shouldn’t be a surprise. It’s a fact that hearing loss causes fatigue. Working hard all day to fill in the gaps wears you out. You’re working too hard to receive the same message as a normal-hearing listener would. Struggling hard to hear all day leads to fatigue and increased cognitive load.

So What Can We Do To Make Things Better?

It’s sad to see someone suffering from hearing loss because they don’t have to live that way. Treat your hearing loss. If you need hearing aids, wear them. Hearing loss is manageable, and it’s a problem we can solve. You just have to be open to the solution.

If you or someone you know is having trouble hearing, please contact us to schedule an appointment. It’s time to start your journey to better hearing and be a part of the conversation.

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