An older person with an old-fashioned hearing aid saying “what’s that sonny”, is what most people think about when hearing loss is talked about. Affecting more than just your ability to hear, hearing loss has risen dramatically among all age groups. If it is not treated it can cause startling repercussions. It’s worth having your hearing checked based only on these four.
1. Mental Decline
Hearing is a sense that you might not link to other health troubles but there is a connection. The most significant is the impact hearing loss has on your cognitive functions and brain health. There is evidence that some conditions people associate with aging, like memory loss, may actually be caused by hearing decline.
The brain’s natural ability to adapt 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. 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.
The brain encounters sound each microsecond whether you think you are hearing something or not. Air hissing in through a vent and other background sounds are all around you even if you are sitting in a quiet room. Your brain interprets this as a sound you don’t need to hear, so you don’t even notice it.
The brain comes to expect this stimulus. The brain doesn’t get the same quality or quantity of sound when there is loss of hearing. Believing the missing sound should still be there, it strains to find it. The absence of stimuli causes stress to the brain leading to cognitive decline and a greater risk of dementia. Seniors have a forty percent higher rate of memory loss and cognitive decline if they have hearing loss, according to studies. People have been shown, even more compellingly, to improve their cognitive ability if they suffer from hearing loss and they invest in hearing aids.
2. Gut Trouble
That seems like a stretch, but it’s not. Hearing loss leads to changes which are related to:
- Muscle tension
- Upset stomach
The constant strain can manifest intestinal issues like:
- Abdominal cramps
More serious conditions such as irritable bowel syndrome will occur as your discomfort increases.
3. Mental Health Concerns
Probably, the most noticeable side effect is 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.
People who suffer from hearing loss have a tough time communicating with others, according to JAMA Otolaryngology Neck Surgery, and that likely accounts for the depression. The research indicates that depression is more pronounced in women between the ages of 18 to 69.
Through the years, the neglected hearing loss has been linked to many mental health conditions like:
- Social withdrawal
- Lack of focus
People who can’t effectively communicate stop trying and that results in sadness and psychological strain.
4. Relationship Troubles
Hearing loss impacts more than just your physical and mental health. 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.
Hearing loss causes problems in personal relationships, too. A 2007 survey found 35 percent of the respondents had a hard time maintaining relationships if they suffered from hearing loss. The survey showed:
- 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.
- Most women indicated that hearing loss was a significant concern when communicating with friends and family members.
- Thirty-seven percent of women surveyed reported being frustrated when somebody with hearing loss wasn’t listening to them
Hearing loss affects your health, your self-esteem, as well as your relationships. The good news is many of these side effects disappear or lessen when you get help like hearing aids. Make an appointment with a hearing care specialist to learn what option works best for you.