Most people picture an older person saying “what’s that sonny” when they picture hearing loss. Hearing loss impacts more than just your ability to hear and has increased sharply among all age groups. If it is left untreated it can cause surprising consequences. Based only on these four, it’s worth having your hearing checked.
1. Cognitive Decline
Hearing is a sense that you might not link to other health problems but there is a connection. Your cognitive function and brain health are the most serious example. Hearing decline is actually the cause of certain conditions which some people associate with aging.
The brain’s inherent ability to adjust to sensory changes backfires when it comes to hearing. Sound is processed through the inner ear in a way the brain can understand if hearing is normal. The difference between the music playing on your car radio and the music the ice cream truck plays as it heads down the street is processed by this mechanism.
Every microsecond, the brain experiences sound even if you don’t notice it. If you are relaxing in a quiet room, there is still background noise around you, like the hiss of air coming through the AC vent. Your brain filters it out because it decides you don’t need to hear it.
The brain comes to count on this stimulus. When there is loss of hearing, suddenly it doesn’t get the same quantity or quality of sound. It struggles to hear the missing sound believing it should still be there. 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 around 40 percent higher in seniors with hearing loss. People have been shown, even more compellingly, to improve their cognitive ability if they have hearing loss and they get hearing aids.
2. Gut Issues
That’s not as much of a stretch as it seems. The changes you experience because of hearing loss have been related to side effects like:
- Upset stomach
- Muscle tension
The continuous stress can manifest intestinal problems like:
- Abdominal cramps
As the discomfort increases, you could find yourself with a more severe intestinal condition like Irritable Bowel Syndrome (IBS).
3. Mental Health Concerns
The impact hearing loss has on your mental health is probably the most significant side effect. A 2014 study found that a decline in hearing correlates to a rise in depression in adults below the age of 70.
Research published in the JAMA Otolaryngology Neck Surgery revealed that people who suffer from untreated hearing loss find it difficult communicating with others and that most likely is the reason for the depression. The research shows that for women between the ages of 18 to 69 the depression is more pronounced.
Over the years, the untreated hearing loss has been linked to many mental health problems such as:
- Lack of focus
- Social withdrawal
Psychological anxiety and sadness are the result when someone can’t communicate successfully and stops trying.
4. Relationship Troubles
Your physical and mental health are not the only things that are impacted by hearing loss. Statistically, people make less money if they have hearing loss. 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-seven percent of women surveyed reported getting annoyed when somebody who has hearing loss wasn’t listening to them
- Forty-three percent of men indicated that hearing loss caused relationship problems
- 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 relationships with family members and friends were a significant concern with the hearing loss
Hearing loss has an effect on your relationships as well as your health and how you feel about yourself. 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 will work best for you.