Most people picture an older person saying “what’s that sonny” when they think of hearing loss. The fact is, hearing loss has risen dramatically amongst all age groups and it impacts more than just your ability to hear. If it is left untreated it can cause surprising repercussions. It’s worth having your hearing tested based only on these four.
1. Mental Decline
There is an association between hearing loss and other health issues, even though you might not have previously known about them. Your cognitive function and brain health are the most serious example. Hearing decline is the true cause of certain conditions which some people connect with aging.
When it comes to hearing loss, the brain’s innate ability to adapt to sensory changes backfires. For somebody with normal hearing, a sound is processed through the inner ear in a way that the brain can understand. This mechanism allows you to tell the difference between the music coming from your car stereo and the music the ice cream truck plays when it heads down your street.
Every microsecond, the brain encounters sound even if you’re not aware of it. There is still ambient sound around you even if you are resting in a quiet room, such as air hissing in through a vent. Your brain interprets this as a sound you don’t need to hear, so you don’t even notice it.
The brain comes to expect this stimulus. All of a sudden, when there is loss of hearing, the brain doesn’t get the same quality or quantity of sound. It still thinks it’s there, though and strains to find it. The absence of stimuli causes stress to the brain leading to cognitive decline and a higher risk of dementia. Seniors have a forty percent higher instance of memory loss and cognitive decline if they suffer from hearing loss, according to studies. Even more persuasive, people with hearing loss that get treatment like hearings aids have been shown to enhance cognitive function.
2. Gut Trouble
That’s not as far-fetched as it seems. Hearing loss leads to changes which are related to:
- Muscle tension
- Upset stomach
The constant strain can manifest intestinal problems like:
- Abdominal cramps
More serious conditions such as irritable bowel syndrome will happen as your discomfort increases.
3. Mental Health Problems
The most obvious side effect is probably the affect 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.
The study published in the JAMA Otolaryngology Neck Surgery revealed that people who have untreated hearing loss find it difficult communicating with others and that most likely accounts for the depression. The research indicates that for women between the ages of 18 to 69 the depression is more pronounced.
Through the years, the neglected hearing loss has been connected to many mental health problems like:
- Lack of focus
- Social withdrawal
Psychological strain and depression are the outcome when someone can’t communicate effectively and stops trying.
4. Relationship Troubles
The side effects of hearing loss impacts more than your physical and mental health. Statistically, if a person has hearing loss, they will probably 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:
- Most women indicated relationships with family members and friends were a significant concern with the hearing loss
- Forty-three percent of men indicated that hearing loss caused relationship problems
- Thirty-seven percent of women surveyed reported getting annoyed when someone with hearing loss wasn’t listening to them
- 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, as well as your relationships. The good news is many of these side effects disappear or lesson when you get help like hearing aids. Make an appointment with a hearing care specialist to find out what option works best for you.