It can be a joy to have time alone to work, focus and relax. However, when feelings creep in such as sadness or disappointment around being alone is when these feelings become loneliness. It is normal to have these feelings from time to time but when these feelings become excessive, and interfere with daily living, is it a serious health concern?
The Risk to Health that Loneliness Can Bring
One in five Americans say they feel lonely and the risks to health reach far. One instance of poor health, whether it be emotional or physical can have reverberating effects through many aspects of your health. Research indicates that loneliness can raise the risk of premature death as equally as smoking or obesity. Chronic loneliness can have a wide range of negative health outcomes, including: Increased stress hormone throughout the body, anxiety, insomnia, elevated heart rate, high blood pressure, a greater risk of diabetes, a weakened immune system and higher rates of cancer and dementia.
What Causes Loneliness?
There are a number of risk factors that can lead to loneliness.
Any change or shift often can come with loneliness. A new job, retiring from an old one , dealing with the death of a loved one, or relocating to a new city all can contribute to isolation. The major cause is a lack of connection with others. This is why hearing loss can often play a huge impact on loneliness.
The Impact of Hearing Loss
Hearing loss begins in the ears but like loneliness, has far reaching complications. This is because hearing loss impacts communication. This makes it difficult to hear your loved ones, your friends, family and co-workers. It is all too common for someone with undiagnosed or untreated hearing loss to appear disconnected or confused during conversation. This may appear to others as disinterest when in fact, the person may be struggling to follow conversation. In the early stages of hearing loss, it is common for certain tones, pitches or consonants to go undetected in conversation, leaving huge gaps on what is heard. Hearing loss often is caused by damage to the tiny hair like cells in the inner ear which send sound information to the brain. These cells are incredibly fragile and can be damaged by many things including loud noise, impact to the head, certain chemicals and old age. When these cells are damaged the results are permanent, leaving the affected individual struggling to fill the gaps in conversation.
Hearing Loss and Social Isolation
This can be an extremely exhausting process. A casual conversation that may seem easy for someone with normal hearing can leave someone with hearing loss completely exhausted. This is why over time; we see many people with hearing loss choosing to self-isolate rather than engage in social activities. At work people may rely on you less as you miss important details that affect work performance. You may find it less rewarding to spend time with old friends and family members as you struggle to follow conversation. Untreated hearing loss can even affect relationships which are closest to you. It is all too common for the stress of hearing loss to erode intimacy in romantic long term relationships. What begins as commonly asking your loved one to repeat themselves turns to resentment and loneliness.
Treating Hearing Loss Can Lessen Loneliness
Currently there is no way to reverse sensorineural hearing loss. The good news is that hearing loss can be treated. Depending on the severity of your hearing loss, hearing aids or cochlear implants can amplify the specific sounds you struggle with. Everyone’s hearing loss is just a little different and that is why it is important to schedule a hearing test. We can diagnose the specific type of hearing loss that you have and find the best solution for your hearing needs.
Treating Your Hearing Loss ASAP
When the sounds you have lost due to inner ear cell damage are amplified you will be able to hear your loved ones again. Your performance at work can start to improve along with self-confidence and a higher self-esteem. The important thing is to not let your hearing loss go unaddressed for too long. The longer you go with undiagnosed and untreated hearing loss, the greater the strain on your relationships. Loneliness can only continue to become more extreme in these circumstances, causing more impact on your general health and quality of life. Schedule a hearing test today and start the process of reconnecting to your life today!