Most people think of an older person saying “what’s that sonny” when they think of hearing loss. Affecting more than just your ability to hear, hearing loss has risen dramatically among all age groups. Surprising consequences result from not getting it treated. These four by themselves make it worth having your hearing examined.
1. Cognitive Decline
There is an association 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 actually the cause of certain conditions which some people connect with aging.
The brain has an impressive ability to adapt to sensory changes, but that backfires when it comes to hearing loss. The brain can understand sound that is processed through the inner ear when hearing is normal. 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 drives down your street.
The brain encounters sound every microsecond whether you think you are hearing something or not. If you are sitting in a quiet room, there is still background noise around you, like the hiss of air blowing into the AC vent. You don’t 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 loss of hearing. It still thinks it’s there, though and strains to find it. The stress on the brain and absence of stimuli can bring about cognitive decline that raises your chances of dementia later on in life. Memory loss and cognitive decline are forty percent more common in seniors with hearing loss, according to studies. Even more compelling, people with hearing loss that get treatment like hearings aids have been shown to improve cognitive ability.
2. Stomach Issues
That seems like a stretch, but it’s not. Side effects connected to changes you experience because of hearing loss are:
- Upset stomach
- Muscle tension
The constant stress can cause intestinal problems like:
- Abdominal cramps
Irritable bowel syndrome or other more severe conditions will develop as the discomfort increases.
3. Mental Health Problems
More than likely, the most obvious side effect is 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 under the age of 70.
The study published in the JAMA Otolaryngology Neck Surgery revealed that people who have untreated hearing loss have a hard time communicating with others and that likely is the reason for the depression. The research indicates that for women between the ages of 18 to 69 the depression is more prominent.
Over the years, many mental health conditions have been linked to neglected hearing loss such as:
- Social withdrawal
- Lack of focus
People stop trying if they can’t communicate effectively and that causes depression and psychological strain.
4. Troubled Relationships
The adverse reactions of hearing loss impacts more than 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:
- Most women indicated relationships with family members and friends were a significant concern with the hearing loss
- 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 somebody who has 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
How you feel about yourself and the world and the state of your health are affected 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 is best for you.