An older person with an out-dated hearing aid saying “what’s that sonny”, is what many people think of when hearing loss is talked about. The fact is, hearing loss has risen dramatically among all age groups and it affects more than just your ability to hear. If it is left untreated it can cause surprising effects. It’s worth getting your hearing checked based solely on these four.
1. Mental Decline
There is an association between hearing loss and other health problems, though you may not have previously been aware of them. The most serious is the impact hearing loss has on your cognitive functions and brain health. Some conditions frequently associated with aging are in fact caused by hearing loss.
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 enables you to tell the difference between the music playing on your car stereo and the music the ice cream truck plays as it goes down your street.
Even if you don’t notice 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 even notice it because your brain filters it out.
The brain comes to expect this stimulus. The brain doesn’t get the same quality or quantity of sound when there is hearing loss. Believing the missing sound should still be there, it strains to find it. The absence of stimuli causes the brain to stress resulting in cognitive decline and a greater risk of dementia. Memory loss and cognitive decline are forty percent more common in seniors with hearing loss, according to studies. People have been shown, even more compellingly, to improve their cognitive functions if they have hearing loss and they invest in hearing aids.
2. Stomach Trouble
That seems like it might seem far-fetched, but it’s not. Side effects associated with changes you experience because of hearing loss are:
- Upset stomach
- Muscle tension
The constant strain can cause intestinal problems like:
- Abdominal cramps
More severe conditions such as irritable bowel syndrome will occur as your discomfort increases.
3. Mental Health Concerns
The most noticeable side effect is probably 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.
The depression is likely accounted for by the fact that people who suffer from hearing loss have a tough time communicating with others, according to JAMA Otolaryngology Neck Surgery. The research indicates that for women between the ages of 18 to 69 the depression is more pronounced.
Through the years, the untreated hearing loss has been connected to many mental health problems like:
- Lack of focus
- Social withdrawal
Psychological anxiety and depression are the result when someone can’t communicate successfully and stops trying.
4. Relationship Troubles
Hearing loss impacts more than just 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 that hearing loss was a significant concern when communicating with friends and family members.
- Thirty-five percent of men reported they agreed to treatment for hearing loss because their spouse or partner pressured them into it
- Forty-three percent of men indicated that they had trouble with relationships due to their hearing loss
- Thirty-seven percent of women interviewed reported being annoyed when someone who has hearing loss wasn’t listening to them
How you feel about yourself and the world and the state of your health are impacted 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 a hearing test to find out what course of action will work best for you.