An elderly person with an out-dated hearing aid saying “what’s that sonny”, is what most people think of when hearing loss is discussed. Hearing loss has an effect on more than just your ability to hear and has escalated sharply among all age groups. If it is left untreated it can cause alarming consequences. 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 problems but there is a connection. Brain health and cognitive function are the most serious examples. There is evidence that some conditions people connect with aging, like memory loss, might really 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. Sound is processed through the inner ear in a way the brain can understand if 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 drives down your street.
Even if you’re not aware of it, the brain encounters sound every microsecond. There is still ambient sound around you even if you are sitting 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.
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. Thinking the missing sound should still be there, it struggles to find it. The stress on the brain and lack of stimuli can bring about cognitive decline that raises your risk of dementia later on in life. Seniors have a forty percent higher instance of memory loss and cognitive decline if they suffer from hearing loss, according to studies. Even more persuasive is the fact that people have been shown to increase their cognitive ability if they have hearing loss and invest in hearing aids.
2. Gut Issues
That seems like a stretch, but it’s not. Hearing loss leads to changes which are associated with:
- Upset stomach
- Muscle tension
The ongoing stress can manifest intestinal problems like:
- Abdominal cramps
More serious conditions such as irritable bowel syndrome will happen as your discomfort increases.
3. Mental Health Problems
The most obvious side effect is probably the impact hearing loss has on your mental health. A 2014 study found that a loss in hearing correlates to an increase in depression in adults below 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 most likely accounts for the depression. The research suggests that for women between the ages of 18 to 69 the depression is more prominent.
Over the years, the untreated hearing loss has been connected to many mental health conditions 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. Relationship Troubles
The negative effects of hearing loss invade more than your physical and mental health. People with poor hearing statistically make less money. 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.
Hearing loss creates problems in personal relationships, as well. A 2007 survey found 35 percent of the respondents with hearing loss had trouble maintaining relationships. The survey showed:
- Thirty-seven percent of women questioned reported being frustrated when someone with hearing loss wasn’t listening to them
- Most women indicated that hearing loss was a significant concern when communicating with friends and family members.
- Forty-three percent of men indicated that hearing loss caused relationship problems
- Thirty-five percent of men Had to be pressured into getting treatment by their partner or spouse before they would agree to it.
Hearing loss impacts your health, your self-esteem, as well as your relationships. What’s promising is many of these side effects go away or lesson when you get help such as hearing aids. Schedule an appointment with a hearing specialist to find out what course of action will work best for you.