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 discussed. The fact is, hearing loss has gone up sharply among all age groups and it affects more than just your ability to hear. Startling repercussions result from not getting it taken care of. Based only on these four, it’s worth having your hearing checked.
1. Mental Decline
There is a connection between hearing loss and other health issues, although you may not have previously known about them. Brain health and cognitive function are the most serious examples. There is evidence that some conditions people associate with aging, such as memory loss, might actually be caused by hearing decline.
The brain’s innate ability to adjust to sensory changes backfires when it comes to hearing. For someone with regular hearing, a sound is processed through the inner ear in a way that the brain can understand. It’s that mechanism of hearing that allows 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. Air hissing in through a vent and other ambient sounds are around you even if you are relaxing in a quiet room. You don’t notice it because your brain filters it out.
The brain comes to expect this stimulus. All of a sudden, when there is hearing loss, the brain doesn’t get the same quality or quantity of sound. It still expects it to be there, though and struggles to hear it. The fatigue on the brain and absence of stimuli can cause cognitive decline that raises your risk of dementia later in life. Studies have shown that memory loss and cognitive decline is about 40 percent higher in seniors with hearing loss. People have been shown, even more compellingly, to improve their cognitive functions if they have hearing loss and they invest in hearing aids.
2. Stomach Issues
That seems like a stretch, but it’s not. Side effects associated with changes you experience due to hearing loss are:
- Upset stomach
- Muscle tension
The ongoing strain can cause intestinal issues like:
- Abdominal cramps
More severe conditions such as irritable bowel syndrome will occur as your discomfort increases.
3. Mental Health Concerns
Probably, the most apparent side effect is the effect 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.
Research published in the JAMA Otolaryngology Neck Surgery found people with untreated hearing loss have a hard time communicating with others and that likely is the reason for the depression. The research suggests that depression is more pronounced in women between the ages of 18 to 69.
Over the years, the neglected hearing loss has been linked to many mental health problems including:
- Social withdrawal
- Lack of focus
People who can’t effectively communicate stop trying and that results in depression and psychological strain.
4. Troubled Relationships
Your physical and mental health are not the only things that are impacted by hearing loss. 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 causes 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 getting annoyed when someone with 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 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. When you get hearing aids quite a few of these side effects go away and that’s good news. Make an appointment with a hearing care specialist to find out what solution works best for you.