Most people imagine an older person saying “what’s that sonny” when they picture hearing loss. The fact is, hearing loss has risen dramatically amongst all age groups and it has an effect on more than just your ability to hear. Surprising repercussions result from not getting it taken care of. These four alone make it worth having your hearing examined.
1. Mental Decline
There is a connection between hearing loss and other health issues, although you may not have previously been aware of them. The most significant is the impact hearing loss has on your cognitive functions and brain health. Hearing decline is the true cause of certain conditions which some people connect with aging.
The brain’s inherent ability to adapt to sensory changes backfires when it comes to hearing. Sound is processed through the inner ear in a way the brain can understand if hearing is normal. This mechanism enables you to know the difference between the music coming from your car stereo and the music the ice cream truck plays as it heads down your street.
Even if you’re not aware of it, the brain experiences sound every microsecond. There is still background sound around you even if you are sitting in a quiet room, such as air hissing in through a vent. Your brain filters it out because it decides you don’t need to hear it.
This stimulus is something the brain comes to expect. When there is loss of hearing, all of a sudden it doesn’t get the same quantity or quality of sound. It still thinks it’s there, though and strains to find it. Your risk of dementia is increased because the absence of stimuli leads to cognitive decline due to increased stress on the brain. Memory loss and cognitive decline are forty percent more common in seniors with hearing loss, according to studies. Even more compelling is the fact that people have been shown to improve their cognitive functions if they have hearing loss and invest in hearing aids.
2. Gut Issues
That seems like it might seem far-fetched, but it’s not. Side effects associated with changes you experience due to hearing loss are:
- Muscle tension
- Upset stomach
The continuous stress can manifest intestinal problems like:
- Abdominal cramps
As the discomfort increases, you might find yourself with a more serious intestinal condition like Irritable Bowel Syndrome (IBS).
3. Mental Health Problems
The impact hearing loss has on your mental health is more than likely the most significant side effect. A 2014 study found that a decline in hearing correlates to an increase in depression in adults under the age of 70.
The study published in the JAMA Otolaryngology Neck Surgery revealed that people with untreated hearing loss have a hard time communicating with others and that likely is the reason for the depression. The research suggests that for women between the ages of 18 to 69 the depression is more prominent.
Over the years, the neglected hearing loss has been linked to many mental health conditions such as:
- Social withdrawal
- Lack of focus
People stop trying if they can’t communicate effectively and that leads to depression and psychological stress.
4. Relationship Troubles
Your physical and mental health are not the only things that are impacted by hearing loss. Statistically, people make less money if they have hearing loss. A 2007 study conducted by the Better Hearing Institute found individuals with untreated hearing loss make on average 20,000 dollars less a year than their hearing colleagues.
Personal relationships also suffer because of hearing loss. A 2007 survey found 35 percent of the respondents with hearing loss had trouble maintaining relationships. The survey showed:
- Most women indicated relationships with family members and friends were a significant concern with the hearing loss
- 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 questioned reported getting irritated when somebody who has hearing loss wasn’t listening to them
- Forty-three percent of men indicated that hearing loss caused relationship problems
Hearing loss impacts your health, your self-esteem, as well as your relationships. When you get hearing aids quite a few of these side effects disappear and that’s good news. Schedule an appointment with a hearing specialist to find out what course of action will work best for you.