Visualize hearing loss and the majority of people picture an elderly person with an out-dated hearing aid saying, “What’s that sonny”? Hearing loss has an effect on more than just your ability to hear and has increased dramatically among all age groups. There are shocking health consequences for people who neglect it. Based only on these four, it’s worth having your hearing tested.
1. Cognitive Decline
Hearing is a sense that you might not link to other health problems but there is a connection. Your cognitive function and brain health are the most serious example. There is evidence that some conditions people associate with aging, like memory loss, might really be caused by hearing decline.
When it comes to hearing loss, the brain’s innate ability to adapt to sensory changes backfires. For a person with regular hearing, a sound is processed through the inner ear in a way that the brain can understand. This mechanism enables you to tell the difference between the music coming from your car stereo and the music the ice cream truck plays when it drives down your street.
Every microsecond, the brain experiences sound even if you’re not aware of it. There is still ambient sound around you even if you are sitting in a quiet room, such as air hissing in through a vent. You don’t even notice it because your brain filters it out.
The brain comes to expect this stimulus. When there is hearing loss, all of a sudden 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 absence of stimuli can bring about cognitive decline that raises your risk of dementia later on in life. Studies have shown that memory loss and cognitive decline is about 40 percent greater in seniors who suffer from hearing loss. Even more persuasive, people who suffer from hearing loss that get treatment like hearings aids have been shown to enhance cognitive function.
2. Gut Trouble
That seems like a stretch, but it’s not. Side effects connected to changes you experience due to hearing loss are:
- Muscle tension
- Upset stomach
The ongoing strain can manifest intestinal problems like:
- Abdominal cramps
As the discomfort increases, you may end up 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 probably the most significant side effect. A 2014 study found that an increase in depression correlates to the loss of hearing in adults below the age of 70.
People with hearing loss have a hard time communicating with others, according to JAMA Otolaryngology Neck Surgery, and that likely accounts for the depression. The research shows that depression is more pronounced in women between the ages of 18 to 69.
Over the years, many mental health problems have been connected to untreated hearing loss such as:
- Social withdrawal
- Lack of focus
People stop trying if they can’t communicate successfully and that causes sadness and psychological strain.
4. Troubled Relationships
The adverse reactions of hearing loss invade more than your physical and mental health. Statistically, if a person has hearing loss, they will probably 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, 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:
- 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
- Thirty-seven percent of women questioned reported getting annoyed when someone who has hearing loss wasn’t listening to them
- Forty-three percent of men indicated that hearing loss caused relationship problems
Hearing loss has an effect on your relationships as well as your health and how you feel about yourself. What’s promising is many of these side effects disappear or lesson when you get help such as hearing aids. Schedule an appointment with a hearing specialist to find out what course of action is best for you.