An older person with an old-fashioned hearing aid saying “what’s that sonny”, is what the majority of people think of when hearing loss is talked about. Having an effect on more than just your ability to hear, hearing loss has risen dramatically among all age groups. If it is left untreated it can cause alarming effects. Based solely on these four, it’s worth having your hearing examined.
1. Cognitive Decline
Although you may not have previously known it, hearing loss can impact your general health. The most significant is the impact hearing loss has on your cognitive functions and brain health. Some conditions frequently associated with aging are really caused by hearing loss.
The brain’s innate ability to adjust to sensory changes backfires when it comes to hearing. 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.
Each microsecond, the brain encounters sound even if you’re not aware of it. Air hissing in through a vent and other ambient sounds are all around you even if you are sitting in a quiet room. You don’t even notice it because your brain filters it out.
This stimulus is something the brain comes to expect. All of a sudden, when there is loss of hearing, the brain doesn’t get the same quality or quantity of sound. It still expects it to be there, though and strains to hear it. Your chance of dementia is increased as the absence of stimuli causes cognitive decline as a result of increased stress on the brain. Studies show that memory loss and cognitive decline is about 40 percent greater in seniors with hearing loss. Even more compelling is the fact that people have been shown to improve their cognitive functions if they suffer from hearing loss and invest in hearing aids.
2. Gut Issues
That’s not as much of a stretch as it seems. Hearing loss leads to changes which are related to:
- Muscle tension
- Upset stomach
The constant strain can manifest intestinal issues like:
- Abdominal cramps
As the discomfort increases, you could end up with a more severe intestinal condition like Irritable Bowel Syndrome (IBS).
3. Mental Health Problems
The affect hearing loss has on your mental health is probably the most significant side effect. A 2014 study found that in adults below the age of 70, an increase in depression correlates to a loss of hearing.
The depression is likely accounted for by the fact that people with hearing loss have a tough time communicating with others, according to JAMA Otolaryngology Neck Surgery. 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 neglected hearing loss such as:
- Lack of focus
- Social withdrawal
Psychological stress and sadness are the outcome when a person can’t communicate effectively and stops trying.
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 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 questioned reported being annoyed when someone with hearing loss wasn’t listening to them
- Most women indicated relationships with family members and friends were a significant concern with the hearing loss
- Thirty-five percent of men reported they agreed to treatment for hearing loss because their spouse or partner pressured them into it
Hearing loss has an effect on your relationships as well as your health and your self-esteem. When you get hearing aids quite a few of these side effects disappear and that’s good news. Schedule a hearing test to find out what course of action will work best for you.