At this point, we know that hearing loss doesn’t just affect your hearing. As with all medical conditions, hearing loss may affect many different areas of your life if left untreated. Untreated hearing loss has been linked to social withdrawal and isolation; it may harm your earning power on the job, and it could cause your interpersonal relationships to crumble due to communication breakdown.
All of these consequences of untreated hearing loss involve other people in your life. At the same time, it is essential to be aware of how untreated hearing loss affects you – from your mental health to your energy level.
The Effect of Hearing Loss on Energy Levels
Hearing loss happens in the brain. The auditory process requires our ears to pick up sounds, but our brains do much to recognize sounds. The inner ear hair cells translate vibrations from sound waves into electric impulses, which are then registered by our brains as sound. Hearing loss interferes with this process and makes it very difficult for our brains to process and recognize sounds.
Studies from Johns Hopkins University have suggested links between untreated hearing loss and an increased risk for dementia. Dr. Frank Lin believes that this is due to your brain carrying a heavier cognitive load as it attempts to make sense of incomplete sound signals. When your brain struggles to hear, your mental processes have to work a lot harder. Over time, this could tire out your brain and leave it vulnerable to the development of other medical issues such as dementia and Alzheimer’s disease.
Leaving hearing loss ignored and untreated could cause fatigue for your cognitive abilities that you may not even immediately recognize. Getting your hearing tested and being fitted for hearing aids are the two most important things you can do for your brain.
Regular Breaks Can Make All the Difference
If you’ve been fitted for hearing aids, then you’ve begun to experience the richness of sounds in your life. At times, this may become overwhelming, and keep in mind, the longer you wait to treat hearing loss, the longer it will take for you to adjust to hearing again.
Our sense of hearing is, in part, responsible for keeping us safe, evolved from a “fight or flight” mentality. The sudden access to every sound may be alarming, making you feel like you have to pay attention to every sound signal. Over time, you will re-learn listening with amplified sound, and you will get better at letting certain sounds fade into the background.
When you become overwhelmed with sounds and conversations in busy environments, take a break. Find a quiet place to sit and take a few deep breaths. If you’re in a place with deafening music or background noise, move away from the sounds. Perhaps having a one-on-one conversation could help if group conversations require too much effort.
Consider Relaxation Exercises
Hearing loss can be a stressful condition, no matter where you are in your process. It’s challenging to come to terms with when you’ve just acknowledged your hearing loss, and it’s difficult to adjust to using hearing aids. The critical thing to keep in mind is that treating hearing loss is a significant step to ensuring your overall health and well-being.
It is essential to build ways to relax and cope with the stress or anxiety in your life, especially when dealing with hearing loss. A regular exercise routine or signing up for a class at the gym helps you manage your stress levels and provides you with energy. Yoga is a low-impact exercise that is excellent for introspection and stress management. Meditation is another mode of relaxation that helps manage blood pressure, stress, and anxiety. Consider signing up for a group meditation course and learn the fundamentals of the practice. You may also find information and tips on meditation online.
You’re Only as Good as the People You Associate With
While hearing loss has become one of the most common medical conditions in the United States, there’s no denying that it still comes with certain taboos. Many people tend to ignore hearing loss because it has been ascribed to “being old.” However, hearing loss affects people at any age – with younger and younger populations experiencing hearing loss due to noise exposure.
Tackling an experience such as hearing loss alone can be exhausting, not to mention stressful and isolating. Surround yourself with supportive people – friends, family, a partner – and ask for help when you need it. Remember that you do not have to go through this alone.
There’s no reason to live with untreated hearing loss. Our practice provides comprehensive hearing tests and top-of-the-line hearing solutions. Our friendly team is here to support you every step of the way to better hearing. Contact us to schedule a consultation.