How your health and hearing go hand in hand

active-seniorsBy Diane Krieger Spivak

It’s easy to believe that hearing has nothing to do with overall health.

But hearing, or the lack thereof, has a tremendous effect on more than just your ability to hear what’s going on around you.

Hearing loss is a hidden disability that can cause psychological, emotional and even physical illness, according to Hearing Health. Because most people wait years to seek help for hearing impairment, often the damage to health is already done.

Hearing loss affects mental health. Social isolation is common because many seek to avoid embarrassing situations. Unfortunately, a lack of socialization often leads to depression. Impaired hearing also leads to anger, frustration and stress, all immunity killers.

Heart disease is linked to hearing loss, too. When the cardiovascular system doesn’t work properly, blood flow to the ears is compromised, affecting hearing, health experts have determined. Conversely, the stress caused by impaired hearing can increase the risk of heart disease. Studies additionally show a link to high blood pressure.

Hearing loss also causes cognitive decline, resulting in Alzheimer’s disease and dementia, research shows. With the brain’s reduced ability to process sound, its cognitive areas take over for those weaker areas, leaving less to devote to higher level thinking, says Hearing Health.

Physical safety is also adversely affected by hearing loss. Walking, driving, riding a bicycle all become dangerous, not only for the person with impaired hearing, but for others, as well. Safety also extends to inability to hear a smoke alarm, television and radio weather warnings, or even a cry for help, adds Hearing Health.

Impaired hearing affects balance. A study at Johns Hopkins School of Medicine revealed that hearing loss, even a mild case, triples the risk of falling among the elderly, the leading cause of death for people over age 65.

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