An older person with an out-dated hearing aid saying “what’s that sonny”, is what the majority of people think about when hearing loss is mentioned. Hearing loss affects more than just your ability to hear and has increased sharply among every age group. If it is not treated it can cause startling effects. Based only on these four, it’s worth having your hearing tested.
1. Cognitive Decline
Hearing is a sense that you may not associate with other health troubles but there is a connection. 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 associate with aging.
The brain has an extraordinary ability to adapt to sensory changes, but that backfires when it comes to hearing loss. Sound is processed through the inner ear in a way the brain can understand if hearing is normal. 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 heads down your street.
The brain encounters sound every microsecond whether you think you are hearing something or not. There is still ambient sound around you even if you are relaxing in a quiet room, such as air hissing in through a 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 hearing loss. It strains to find the missing sound thinking it should still be present. Your risk of dementia is increased as the absence of stimuli causes cognitive decline as a result of increased stress on the brain. Seniors have a forty percent higher instance of memory loss and cognitive decline if they have hearing loss, according to studies. Even more persuasive, people with hearing loss that get treatment such as hearings aids have been shown to improve cognitive ability.
2. Gut Problems
That seems like a stretch, but it’s not. The changes you experience due to hearing loss have been related to side effects like:
- Muscle tension
- Upset stomach
The constant strain can cause intestinal issues like:
- Abdominal cramps
More severe conditions such as irritable bowel syndrome will occur as your discomfort increases.
3. Mental Health Concerns
The most obvious side effect is probably 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.
People who suffer from hearing loss have a tough time communicating with others, according to JAMA Otolaryngology Neck Surgery, and that likely accounts for the depression. The research indicates that for women between the ages of 18 to 69 the depression is more pronounced.
Over the years, many mental health conditions have been connected 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
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.
Hearing loss creates problems in personal relationships, too. A 2007 survey found 35 percent of the respondents with hearing loss had trouble maintaining relationships. The survey showed:
- Forty-three percent of men indicated that they had trouble with relationships due to their hearing loss
- 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
- Thirty-seven percent of women questioned reported being frustrated when someone who has hearing loss wasn’t listening to them
Hearing loss has an effect on your relationships as well as your health and your self-esteem. When you get hearing aids many of these side effects go away and that’s good news. Make an appointment with a hearing care specialist to find out what option works best for you.