An elderly person with an out-dated hearing aid saying “what’s that sonny”, is what most people think about when hearing loss is discussed. The fact is, hearing loss has escalated dramatically among all age groups and it has an effect on more than just your ability to hear. Shocking consequences result from not having it taken care of. It’s worth getting your hearing tested based only on these four.
1. Cognitive Decline
There is an association between hearing loss and other health problems, though you may not have previously known about them. Brain health and cognitive function are the most significant examples. There is evidence that some conditions people connect with aging, such as memory loss, may really be caused by hearing decline.
When it comes to hearing loss, the brain’s inherent ability to adapt to sensory changes backfires. Sound is processed through the inner ear in a way the brain can understand if hearing is normal. 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.
Each microsecond, the brain encounters sound even if you’re not aware of it. Air hissing in through a vent and other ambient sounds are around you even if you are resting in a quiet room. 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 strains to find the missing sound believing it should still be present. The fatigue on the brain and lack of stimuli can cause cognitive decline that raises your chances of dementia later in your life. Studies show that memory loss and cognitive decline is around 40 percent higher in seniors who suffer from hearing loss. Even more compelling, people who suffer from hearing loss that get treatment like hearings aids have been shown to enhance cognitive function.
2. Stomach Issues
That seems like a stretch, but it’s not. Side effects related to changes you experience because of hearing loss are:
- Muscle tension
- Upset stomach
The ongoing stress can manifest intestinal issues like:
- Abdominal cramps
Irritable bowel syndrome or other more serious conditions will develop as the discomfort increases.
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 an increase in depression correlates to a decline of hearing in adults below the age of 70.
Research published in the JAMA Otolaryngology Neck Surgery revealed that people who have untreated hearing loss find it difficult communicating with others and that probably accounts for the depression. The research shows that depression is more prominent in women between the ages of 18 to 69.
Over the years, many mental health conditions have been connected to neglected hearing loss such as:
- Social withdrawal
- Lack of focus
People stop trying if they can’t communicate successfully and that leads to sadness and psychological strain.
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 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 had a hard time maintaining relationships if they suffered from hearing loss. The survey showed:
- Forty-three percent of men indicated that hearing loss caused relationship problems
- 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 interviewed reported being annoyed when somebody who has hearing loss wasn’t listening to them
- Most women indicated that hearing loss was a significant concern when communicating with friends and family members.
Your self-esteem and the state of your health are affected by hearing loss. It also has an effect on your relationships. When you get hearing aids many of these side effects go away and that’s good news. Schedule an appointment with a hearing specialist to find out what course of action is best for you.