Visualize hearing loss and many people picture an elderly person with an old-fashioned hearing aid saying, “What’s that sonny”? The fact is, hearing loss has increased sharply among all age groups and it has an effect on more than just your ability to hear. Surprising consequences result from not getting it treated. Based solely on these four, it’s worth having your hearing checked.
1. Mental Decline
Although you may not have previously known it, hearing loss can influence your general health. The most significant is the impact hearing loss has on your cognitive functions and brain health. Hearing decline is actually the cause of certain conditions which some people associate with aging.
The brain’s natural 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. It’s that mechanism of hearing that allows you to identify the difference between the music coming from your car radio and the music the ice cream truck plays as it drives down your street.
Even if you don’t notice it, the brain encounters sound every microsecond. If you are sitting in a quiet room, there is still ambient noise around you, like the hiss of air blowing into 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 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 struggles to hear it. Your chance of dementia is increased as the absence of stimuli results in cognitive decline due to increased stress on the brain. Seniors have a forty percent higher rate of memory loss and cognitive decline if they suffer from hearing loss, according to studies. Even more compelling is the fact that people have been shown to increase their cognitive functions if they have hearing loss and invest in hearing aids.
2. Stomach Trouble
That seems like it might seem far-fetched, but it’s not. The changes you experience due to hearing loss have been connected to side effects like:
- Muscle tension
- Upset stomach
The continuous stress can cause intestinal issues like:
- Abdominal cramps
Irritable bowel syndrome or other more serious conditions will develop as the discomfort increases.
3. Mental Health Concerns
The most significant side effect is probably the impact hearing loss has on your mental health. A 2014 study found that in adults under the age of 70, an increase in depression correlates to a loss of hearing.
People with hearing loss have a hard time communicating with others, according to JAMA Otolaryngology Neck Surgery, and that probably accounts for the depression. The research shows that depression is more prominent in women between the ages of 18 to 69.
Through the years, the neglected hearing loss has been connected to many mental health problems such as:
- Social withdrawal
- Lack of focus
People who aren’t able to successfully communicate stop trying and that results in depression and psychological stress.
4. Relationship Troubles
The adverse reactions 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 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:
- Thirty-seven percent of women interviewed reported getting annoyed when somebody with hearing loss wasn’t listening to them
- Thirty-five percent of men Had to be pressured into getting treatment by their partner or spouse before they would agree to it.
- Forty-three percent of men indicated that hearing loss caused relationship problems
- Most women indicated that hearing loss was a significant concern when communicating with friends and family members.
Hearing loss has an effect on your relationships as well as your health and how you feel about yourself. What’s promising is many of these side effects go away or lesson when you get help such as hearing aids. Schedule an appointment with a hearing specialist to find out what course of action is best for you.