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. The fact is, hearing loss has escalated dramatically among all age groups and it has an effect on more than just your ability to hear. If it is not treated it can cause surprising repercussions. Based solely on these four, it’s worth having your hearing tested.
1. Mental Decline
There is an association between hearing loss and other health issues, although you might not have previously been aware of them. Brain health and cognitive function are the most significant examples. There is evidence that some conditions people connect with aging, like memory loss, might actually be caused by hearing decline.
When it comes to hearing loss, the brain’s innate ability to adjust to sensory changes backfires. The brain can understand sound that is processed through the inner ear when hearing is normal. 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 drives down your street.
Even if you don’t notice it, the brain encounters sound every microsecond. Air hissing in through a vent and other ambient sounds are around you even if you are resting in a quiet room. You don’t notice it because your brain filters it out.
This stimulus is something the brain comes to count on. All of a sudden, when there is loss of hearing, the brain doesn’t get the same quality or quantity of sound. It strains to find the missing sound believing it should still be there. The fatigue on the brain and lack of stimuli can bring about cognitive decline that raises your risk of dementia later on in your life. 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 functions if they suffer from hearing loss and they invest in hearing aids.
2. Gut Trouble
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 constant strain can manifest intestinal issues like:
- Abdominal cramps
As the discomfort increases, you may end up with a more severe intestinal condition like Irritable Bowel Syndrome (IBS).
3. Mental Health Problems
The most noticeable side effect is probably the impact hearing loss has on your mental health. A 2014 study found that in adults below the age of 70, an increase in depression correlates to a loss of hearing.
Research published in the JAMA Otolaryngology Neck Surgery revealed that people who have untreated hearing loss find it difficult communicating with others 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 problems have been connected to untreated hearing loss such as:
- Social withdrawal
- Lack of focus
People stop trying if they can’t communicate effectively and that leads to depression and psychological strain.
4. Troubled Relationships
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 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 relationships with family members and friends were a significant concern with the hearing loss
- Thirty-five percent of men Had to be pressured into getting treatment by their partner or spouse before they would agree to it.
- Thirty-seven percent of women questioned reported being irritated when somebody who has hearing loss wasn’t listening to them
How you feel about yourself and the world and the state of your health is impacted by hearing loss. It also has an effect on your relationships. When you get hearing aids quite a few of these side effects disappear and that’s good news. Schedule an appointment with a hearing specialist to find out what course of action will work best for you.