Most people think of an older person saying “what’s that sonny” when they picture hearing loss. Impacting more than just your ability to hear, hearing loss has increased sharply among all age groups. If it is left untreated it can cause shocking repercussions. It’s worth getting your hearing checked based solely on these four.
1. Mental Decline
There is a connection between hearing loss and other health issues, though you might not have previously been aware of them. The most significant is the impact hearing loss has on your cognitive functions and brain health. Some conditions frequently associated with aging are actually caused by hearing loss.
The brain’s innate ability to adjust to sensory changes backfires when it comes to hearing. For a person with normal hearing, a sound is processed through the inner ear in a way that the brain can understand. It’s that mechanism of hearing that enables you to recognize the difference between the music coming from your car radio and the music the ice cream truck plays as it heads down your street.
Even if you don’t notice it, the brain encounters sound every microsecond. Air hissing in through a vent and other background sounds are around you even if you are relaxing in a quiet room. Your brain interprets this as a sound you don’t need to know about, so you don’t notice it.
This stimulus is something the brain comes to count on. When there is loss of hearing, all of a sudden it doesn’t get the same quantity or quality of sound. Believing the missing sound should still be there, it strains to find it. Your chance of dementia is increased as the absence of stimuli results in cognitive decline as a result of increased stress on the brain. Studies have shown that memory loss and cognitive decline is about 40 percent greater in seniors with hearing loss. Even more persuasive, people with hearing loss that get treatment like hearings aids have been shown to improve cognitive ability.
2. Gut Problems
That seems like a stretch, but it’s not. The changes you experience due to hearing loss have been associated with side effects like:
- Upset stomach
- Muscle tension
The ongoing strain can manifest intestinal problems like:
- Abdominal cramps
As the discomfort increases, you may find yourself with a more severe intestinal condition like Irritable Bowel Syndrome (IBS).
3. Mental Health Concerns
The impact hearing loss has on your mental health is more than likely the most obvious side effect. A 2014 study found that a decline in hearing correlates to a rise in depression in adults below the age of 70.
People with hearing loss have a tough time communicating with others, according to JAMA Otolaryngology Neck Surgery, and that 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, many mental health problems have been linked to untreated hearing loss such as:
- Social withdrawal
- Lack of focus
People who aren’t able to 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 individuals with untreated hearing loss make on average 20,000 dollars less a year than their hearing colleagues.
Hearing loss creates 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:
- Thirty-five percent of men reported they agreed to treatment for hearing loss because their spouse or partner pressured them into it
- Forty-three percent of men indicated that hearing loss caused relationship problems
- Thirty-seven percent of women interviewed reported being annoyed 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.
Hearing loss has an effect on your relationships as well as your health and your self-esteem. When you get hearing aids many of these side effects go away and that’s good news. Schedule an appointment with a hearing specialist to find out what course of action will work best for you.