Most people imagine 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 increased sharply amongst all age groups. If it goes untreated it can cause startling effects. Based only on these four, it’s worth having your hearing examined.
1. Mental Decline
Hearing is a sense that you may not link to other health issues but there is an association. Your cognitive function and brain health are the most serious example. There is evidence that some conditions people connect with aging, like memory loss, may really be caused by hearing decline.
When it comes to hearing loss, the brain’s innate ability to adjust to sensory changes backfires. For a person with normal hearing, a sound is processed through the inner ear in a way that the brain can understand. It’s that mechanism of hearing that enables you to identify the difference between the music coming from your car radio and the music the ice cream truck plays as it goes down your street.
Even if you’re not aware of 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.
This stimulus is something the brain comes to expect. The brain doesn’t get the same quality or quantity of sound when there is loss of hearing. It struggles to hear the missing sound thinking it should still be there. The lack of stimuli causes stress to the brain resulting in cognitive decline and a greater risk of dementia. Seniors have a forty percent higher instance 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 improve their cognitive functions if they suffer from hearing loss and get hearing aids.
2. Gut Issues
That seems like a stretch, 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 manifest intestinal issues like:
- Abdominal cramps
As the discomfort increases, you might end up with a more serious intestinal condition like Irritable Bowel Syndrome (IBS).
3. Mental Health Concerns
The affect hearing loss has on your mental health is probably the most obvious side effect. A 2014 study found that in adults below the age of 70, an increase in depression correlates to a decline in hearing.
The depression is most likely accounted for by the fact that people who have hearing loss have a hard time communicating with others, according to JAMA Otolaryngology Neck Surgery. The research indicates that depression is more pronounced in women between the ages of 18 to 69.
Over the years, the untreated 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 anxiety.
4. Relationship Troubles
Your physical and mental health are not the only things that are impacted by hearing loss. People with poor hearing statistically 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.
Hearing loss causes problems in personal relationships, as well. 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
- Most women indicated that hearing loss was a significant concern when communicating with friends and family members.
- Thirty-seven percent of women surveyed reported being irritated when somebody with hearing loss wasn’t listening to them
- Forty-three percent of men indicated that they had trouble with relationships due to their hearing loss
Hearing loss has an effect on your relationships as well as your health and your self-esteem. 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.