An older person with an old-fashioned hearing aid saying “what’s that sonny”, is what most people think of when hearing loss is discussed. Hearing loss affects more than just your ability to hear and has escalated sharply amongst all age groups. Startling consequences result from failing to get it treated. Based solely on these four, it’s worth having your hearing tested.
1. Mental Decline
There is a connection between hearing loss and other health problems, though you may not have previously known about them. The most significant is the impact hearing loss has on your cognitive functions and brain health. Hearing decline is the true cause of certain conditions which some people connect with aging.
The brain’s natural ability to adjust 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 playing on your car radio and the music the ice cream truck plays as it heads down the street is sorted out by this mechanism.
Even if you don’t notice it, the brain encounters sound every microsecond. There is still background sound around you even if you are resting in a quiet room, such as air hissing in through a 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. Suddenly, 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 stress on the brain and lack of stimuli can cause cognitive decline that raises your risk of dementia later in life. Studies show that memory loss and cognitive decline is around 40 percent greater in seniors who suffer from hearing loss. People have been shown, even more compellingly, to improve their cognitive ability if they have hearing loss and they invest in hearing aids.
2. Stomach Problems
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 strain can cause intestinal issues like:
- Abdominal cramps
More serious conditions such as irritable bowel syndrome will occur as your discomfort increases.
3. Mental Health Problems
The most significant side effect is probably the affect hearing loss has on your mental health. A 2014 study found that a decline in hearing correlates to an increase in depression in adults below the age of 70.
Research published in the JAMA Otolaryngology Neck Surgery found people who have untreated hearing loss find it difficult communicating with others and that likely accounts for the depression. The research indicates that depression is more prominent in women between the ages of 18 to 69.
Through the years, the neglected hearing loss has been linked to many mental health conditions like:
- Social withdrawal
- Lack of focus
People stop trying if they can’t communicate successfully and that causes depression and psychological strain.
4. Relationship Troubles
Hearing loss impacts more than just your physical and mental health. 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 had a hard time maintaining relationships if they suffered from hearing loss. The survey showed:
- Thirty-five percent of men Had to be pressured into getting treatment by their partner or spouse before they would agree to it.
- 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 irritated when somebody who has hearing loss wasn’t listening to them
- Forty-three percent of men indicated that hearing loss caused relationship problems
Hearing loss impacts your health, your self-esteem, and your relationships. When you get hearing aids quite a few 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.