An elderly person with an old-fashioned hearing aid saying “what’s that sonny”, is what many people think of when hearing loss is discussed. Impacting more than just your ability to hear, hearing loss has escalated dramatically amongst all age groups. Surprising consequences result from not having it taken care of. It’s worth having your hearing examined based only on these four.
1. Cognitive Decline
There is a connection between hearing loss and other health problems, although you might not have previously known about them. Brain health and cognitive function are the most serious examples. Some conditions commonly associated with aging are really caused by hearing loss.
The brain’s innate ability to adapt to sensory changes backfires when it comes to hearing. The brain can understand sound that is processed through the inner ear when 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 processed by this mechanism.
The brain experiences sound every microsecond whether you think you are hearing something or not. If you are resting in a quiet room, there is still background noise around you, like the hiss of air coming through the AC vent. Your brain filters it out because it decides you don’t need to hear it.
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. It still expects it to be there, though and strains to find it. The stress on the brain and lack of stimuli can bring about cognitive decline that raises your risk of dementia later in life. Memory loss and cognitive decline are forty percent more common in seniors with hearing loss, according to studies. Even more persuasive is the fact that people have been shown to increase their cognitive ability if they suffer from hearing loss and invest in hearing aids.
2. Gut Issues
That’s not as far-fetched as it seems. The changes you experience because of hearing loss have been connected to side effects like:
- Upset stomach
- Muscle tension
The continuous stress can cause intestinal issues like:
- Abdominal cramps
More severe conditions such as irritable bowel syndrome will occur as your discomfort increases.
3. Mental Health Concerns
The most significant side effect is probably the affect hearing loss has on your mental health. A 2014 study found that an increase in depression correlates to the loss 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 have a hard time communicating with others and that probably accounts for the depression. The research shows that for women between the ages of 18 to 69 the depression is more pronounced.
Over the years, the neglected hearing loss has been linked to many mental health problems 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. Troubled Relationships
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 that hearing loss was a significant concern when communicating with friends and family members.
- Thirty-seven percent of women interviewed reported being annoyed when somebody who has hearing loss wasn’t listening to them
- 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
Hearing loss affects your health, your self-esteem, and your relationships. The good news is many of these side effects go away or lesson when you get help such as hearing aids. Make an appointment with a hearing care specialist to learn what solution works best for you.