An elderly person with an old-fashioned hearing aid saying “what’s that sonny”, is what the majority of people think about when hearing loss is talked about. Hearing loss impacts more than just your ability to hear and has increased dramatically amongst all age groups. If it is not treated it can cause surprising repercussions. These four alone make it worth having your hearing examined.
1. Cognitive Decline
While you might not have previously known it, hearing loss can affect your overall health. Your cognitive function and brain health are the most significant example. Some conditions generally associated with aging are actually caused by hearing loss.
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. 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 sorted out by this mechanism.
Every microsecond, the brain encounters sound even if you don’t notice it. There is still background sound around you even if you are resting in a quiet room, such as air hissing in through a vent. Your brain filters it out because it decides you don’t need to hear it.
This stimulus is something the brain comes to count on. Suddenly, when there is loss of hearing, the brain doesn’t get the same quality or quantity of sound. It still thinks it’s there, though and strains to find it. The fatigue on the brain and lack of stimuli can bring about cognitive decline that increases your risk of dementia later on in life. Seniors have a forty percent higher rate of memory loss and cognitive decline if they suffer from hearing loss, according to studies. Even more persuasive, people with hearing loss that get treatment like hearings aids have been shown to improve cognitive ability.
2. Gut Trouble
That’s not as far-fetched as it seems. Side effects related to changes you experience due to hearing loss are:
- Muscle tension
- Upset stomach
The constant strain can cause intestinal problems like:
- Abdominal cramps
More severe conditions such as irritable bowel syndrome will occur as your discomfort increases.
3. Mental Health Concerns
The most noticeable side effect is probably the impact hearing loss has on your mental health. A 2014 study found that a decline in hearing correlates to an increase in depression in adults below the age of 70.
The depression is likely accounted for by the fact that people who suffer from hearing loss have a difficult time communicating with others, according to JAMA Otolaryngology Neck Surgery. The research shows that depression is more prominent in women between the ages of 18 to 69.
Over the years, the untreated hearing loss has been connected to many mental health problems including:
- Social withdrawal
- Lack of focus
People stop trying if they can’t communicate successfully and that leads to depression and psychological anxiety.
4. Relationship Troubles
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 with hearing loss had trouble maintaining relationships. The survey showed:
- Forty-three percent of men indicated that hearing loss caused relationship problems
- Thirty-seven percent of women surveyed reported getting irritated when someone with hearing loss wasn’t listening to them
- 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.
Hearing loss has an effect on your relationships as well as your health and how you feel about yourself. The good news is many of these side effects disappear or lesson when you get help like hearing aids. Make an appointment with a hearing care specialist to find out what solution works best for you.