Most people think of an older person saying “what’s that sonny” when they think of hearing loss. Hearing loss has an effect on more than just your ability to hear and has escalated dramatically amongst all age groups. Shocking repercussions result from not getting it taken care of. Based only on these four, it’s worth having your hearing checked.
1. Cognitive Decline
There is an association between hearing loss and other health problems, even though you might not have previously been aware of them. The most significant is the impact hearing loss has on your cognitive functions and brain health. There is evidence that some conditions people associate with aging, like memory loss, might actually be caused by hearing decline.
The brain has an extraordinary ability to adapt to sensory changes, but that backfires when it comes to hearing loss. For a person with normal hearing, a sound is processed through the inner ear in a way that the brain can understand. The difference between the music coming from 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 experiences sound every microsecond. Air hissing in through a vent and other ambient sounds are all around you even if you are relaxing in a quiet room. You don’t notice it because your brain filters it out.
This stimulus is something the brain comes to count on. When there is loss of hearing, all of a sudden it doesn’t receive the same quantity or quality of sound. It strains to find the missing sound thinking it should still be present. Your risk of dementia is increased because the absence of stimuli leads to cognitive decline due to increased stress on the brain. Studies have shown that memory loss and cognitive decline is around 40 percent greater in seniors with hearing loss. Even more compelling, people who suffer from hearing loss that get treatment such as hearings aids have been shown to enhance cognitive ability.
2. Stomach Problems
That seems like a stretch, but it’s not. The changes you experience due to hearing loss have been connected to side effects like:
- Muscle tension
- Upset stomach
The constant stress can cause intestinal issues like:
- Abdominal cramps
As the discomfort increases, you could end up with a more serious intestinal condition like Irritable Bowel Syndrome (IBS).
3. Mental Health Concerns
Probably, the most obvious side effect is the impact hearing loss has on your mental health. A 2014 study found that a loss in hearing correlates to a rise in depression in adults below 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 most likely accounts for the depression. The research suggests that for women between the ages of 18 to 69 the depression is more prominent.
Over the years, many mental health conditions have been connected to neglected hearing loss such as:
- Lack of focus
- Social withdrawal
People who can’t successfully communicate stop trying and that leads to depression and psychological strain.
4. Troubled Relationships
The adverse reactions of hearing loss impacts more than your physical and mental health. Statistically, people make less money if they have hearing loss. 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.
Hearing loss causes problems in personal relationships, too. A 2007 survey found 35 percent of the respondents with hearing loss had trouble maintaining relationships. The survey showed:
- Thirty-seven percent of women interviewed reported getting annoyed when somebody who has hearing loss wasn’t listening to them
- Most women indicated relationships with family members and friends were a significant concern with the hearing loss
- Forty-three percent of men indicated that they had trouble with relationships due to their hearing loss
- Thirty-five percent of men Had to be pressured into getting treatment by their partner or spouse before they would agree to it.
Hearing loss affects your health, your self-esteem, as well as your relationships. When you get hearing aids many of these side effects go away and that’s good news. Schedule a hearing test to find out what course of action will work best for you.