Visualize hearing loss and the majority of people imagine an elderly person with an out-dated hearing aid saying, “What’s that sonny”? Impacting more than just your ability to hear, hearing loss has risen sharply among all age groups. If it goes untreated it can cause startling repercussions. Based only on these four, it’s worth having your hearing checked.
1. Mental Decline
There is a connection between hearing loss and other health issues, though you might not have previously known about them. The most significant is the impact hearing loss has on your cognitive functions and brain health. There is evidence that some conditions people connect with aging, like memory loss, might actually be caused by hearing decline.
The brain has a fantastic 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. It’s that mechanism of hearing that permits you to identify the difference between the music coming from your car radio and the music the ice cream truck plays as it heads down your street.
Even if you don’t notice it, the brain experiences sound every microsecond. If you are relaxing in a quiet room, there is still background noise around you, like the hiss of air blowing into the AC vent. Your brain filters it out because it decides you don’t need to hear it.
The brain comes to expect this stimulus. All of a sudden, when there is hearing loss, the brain doesn’t get the same quality or quantity of sound. Thinking the missing sound should still be there, it struggles to find it. Your chance of dementia is increased because the absence of stimuli results in cognitive decline as a result of increased stress on the brain. Studies have shown that memory loss and cognitive decline is about 40 percent greater in seniors with hearing loss. People have been shown, even more compellingly, to increase their cognitive ability if they have hearing loss and they invest in hearing aids.
2. Stomach Trouble
That’s not as much of a stretch as it seems. The changes you experience due to hearing loss have been related to side effects like:
- Muscle tension
- Upset stomach
The constant strain can manifest intestinal problems like:
- Abdominal cramps
Irritable bowel syndrome or other more severe conditions will develop as the discomfort increases.
3. Mental Health Problems
Probably, the most noticeable side effect is the impact hearing loss has on your mental health. A 2014 study found that a decline in hearing correlates to a rise in depression in adults under the age of 70.
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 for women between the ages of 18 to 69 the depression is more prominent.
Over the years, many mental health problems have been connected to untreated hearing loss such as:
- Social withdrawal
- Lack of focus
Psychological strain and sadness are the outcome when a person can’t communicate successfully and stops trying.
4. Troubled Relationships
Hearing loss impacts more than just your physical and mental health. 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.
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.
- Forty-three percent of men indicated that they had trouble with relationships due to their hearing loss
- Thirty-seven percent of women surveyed reported getting annoyed when somebody who has hearing loss wasn’t listening to them
Hearing loss impacts your health, your self-esteem, as well as your relationships. When you get hearing aids many of these side effects disappear and that’s good news. Make an appointment with a hearing care specialist to find out what solution works best for you.