An older person with an out-dated hearing aid saying “what’s that sonny”, is what the majority of people think of when hearing loss is talked about. Hearing loss impacts more than just your ability to hear and has escalated dramatically amongst all age groups. If it is left untreated it can cause shocking effects. It’s worth having your hearing checked based solely on these four.
1. Mental Decline
Hearing is a sense that you might not associate with other health problems but there is an association. Brain health and cognitive function are the most serious examples. Hearing decline is the true cause of certain conditions which some people connect with aging.
The brain’s inherent ability to adapt 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. This mechanism allows you to know the difference between the music playing on your car stereo and the music the ice cream truck plays when it drives down your street.
The brain encounters sound each microsecond whether you think you are hearing something or not. Air hissing in through a vent and other background sounds are all around you even if you are sitting in a quiet room. You don’t even notice it because your brain filters it out.
The brain comes to expect this stimulus. When there is loss of hearing, all of a sudden it doesn’t receive the same quantity or quality of sound. Believing the missing sound should still be there, it strains to find it. The absence of stimuli causes stress to the brain leading to cognitive decline and a higher risk of dementia. Memory loss and cognitive decline are forty percent more common in seniors with hearing loss, according to studies. Even more compelling, people who suffer from hearing loss that get treatment such as hearings aids have been shown to enhance cognitive function.
2. Stomach Trouble
That’s not as far-fetched as it seems. The changes you experience because of hearing loss have been related to side effects like:
- Muscle tension
- Upset stomach
The continuous 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
More than likely, the most obvious side effect is the impact hearing loss has on your mental health. A 2014 study found that an increase in depression correlates to the loss of hearing in adults under the age of 70.
Research published in the JAMA Otolaryngology Neck Surgery found people who suffer from untreated hearing loss find it difficult communicating with others and that likely is the reason for the depression. The research suggests 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 including:
- Social withdrawal
- Lack of focus
Psychological anxiety and sadness are the outcome when a person can’t communicate successfully and stops trying.
4. Relationship Troubles
The side effects of hearing loss invade 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:
- 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
- Most women indicated relationships with family members and friends were a significant concern with the hearing loss
- Thirty-seven percent of women interviewed reported getting frustrated 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 affected by hearing loss. It also has an effect on your relationships. When you get hearing aids quite a few 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.