An older person with an out-dated hearing aid saying “what’s that sonny”, is what many people think about when hearing loss is mentioned. Hearing loss has an effect on more than just your ability to hear and has escalated dramatically among every age group. If it goes untreated it can cause surprising consequences. Based solely on these four, it’s worth having your hearing tested.
1. Mental Decline
There is a connection between hearing loss and other health issues, although you may not have previously known about them. The most serious is the impact hearing loss has on your cognitive functions and brain health. Some conditions frequently connected to aging are really caused by hearing loss.
When it comes to hearing loss, the brain’s natural ability to adapt to sensory changes backfires. The brain can understand sound that is processed through the inner ear when hearing is normal. The difference between the music playing on your car radio and the music the ice cream truck plays as it heads down the street is sorted out by this mechanism.
Even if you’re not aware of it, the brain encounters sound every microsecond. There is still ambient sound around you even if you are resting in a quiet room, such as air hissing in through a vent. You don’t even notice it because your brain filters it out.
This stimulus is something the brain comes to count on. All of a sudden, when there is hearing loss, the brain doesn’t get the same quality or quantity of sound. Thinking the missing sound should still be there, it struggles to find it. Your risk of dementia is increased as the absence of stimuli results in cognitive decline due to increased stress on the brain. Studies have shown that memory loss and cognitive decline is about 40 percent greater in seniors who suffer from hearing loss. Even more persuasive is the fact that people have been shown to improve their cognitive ability if they have hearing loss and get hearing aids.
2. Stomach Problems
That seems like a stretch, but it’s not. The changes you experience due to hearing loss have been associated with side effects like:
- Muscle tension
- Upset stomach
The continuous strain can cause intestinal issues like:
- Abdominal cramps
Irritable bowel syndrome or other more severe conditions will develop as the discomfort increases.
3. Mental Health Concerns
The affect hearing loss has on your mental health is more than likely the most noticeable side effect. A 2014 study found that in adults below the age of 70, an increase in depression correlates to a decline in hearing.
Research published in the JAMA Otolaryngology Neck Surgery revealed that people with untreated hearing loss find it difficult communicating with others and that likely accounts for the depression. The research indicates that depression is more prominent in women between the ages of 18 to 69.
Over the years, the untreated hearing loss has been connected to many mental health conditions including:
- Social withdrawal
- Lack of focus
People who can’t effectively communicate stop trying and that leads to sadness and psychological stress.
4. Troubled Relationships
Your physical and mental health are not the only things that are impacted by hearing loss. People with poor hearing statistically make less money. A 2007 study conducted by the Better Hearing Institute found 20,000 dollars per year less is made by individuals with hearing loss in comparison to their hearing colleagues.
Personal relationships also suffer because of hearing loss. A 2007 survey found 35 percent of the respondents had a hard time maintaining relationships if they suffered from hearing loss. The survey showed:
- Thirty-five percent of men reported they agreed to treatment for hearing loss because their spouse or partner pressured them into it
- Thirty-seven percent of women surveyed reported being irritated when someone with hearing loss wasn’t listening to them
- Most women indicated that hearing loss was a significant concern when communicating with friends and family members.
- Forty-three percent of men indicated that they had trouble with relationships due to their hearing loss
Your self-esteem and the state of your health are affected by hearing loss. It also has an effect on your relationships. What’s promising is many of these side effects go away or lesson when you get help like hearing aids. Make an appointment with a hearing care specialist to learn what option works best for you.