Imagine hearing loss and most people imagine an elderly person with an out-dated hearing aid saying, “What’s that sonny”? Impacting more than just your ability to hear, hearing loss has escalated sharply among all age groups. Surprising repercussions result from not getting it treated. Based only on these four, it’s worth having your hearing examined.
1. Cognitive Decline
Hearing is a sense that you may not associate with other health issues but there is a connection. Brain health and cognitive function are the most significant examples. Some conditions frequently connected to aging are in fact caused by hearing loss.
When it comes to hearing loss, the brain’s natural ability to adapt to sensory changes backfires. The brain can understand sound that is processed through the inner ear when hearing is normal. This mechanism allows you to tell the difference between the music coming from your car stereo and the music the ice cream truck plays as it goes down your street.
Even if you don’t notice it, the brain experiences sound every microsecond. Air hissing in through a vent and other background sounds are all around you even if you are resting in a quiet room. Your brain filters it out because it decides you don’t need to hear it.
This stimulus is something the brain comes to expect. The brain doesn’t get the same quality or quantity of sound when there is hearing loss. It still thinks it’s there, though and struggles to find it. The fatigue on the brain and lack of stimuli can cause cognitive decline that raises your chances of dementia later in life. Seniors have a forty percent higher instance of memory loss and cognitive decline if they suffer from hearing loss, according to studies. Even more persuasive is the fact that people have been shown to improve their cognitive ability if they suffer from hearing loss and get hearing aids.
2. Gut Trouble
That seems like a stretch, but it’s not. Hearing loss leads to changes which are associated with:
- Muscle tension
- Upset stomach
The constant strain can manifest intestinal problems like:
- Abdominal cramps
Irritable bowel syndrome or other more severe conditions will develop as the discomfort increases.
3. Mental Health Concerns
More than likely, the most apparent side effect is the impact hearing loss has on your mental health. A 2014 study found that an increase in depression correlates to the loss of hearing in adults under the age of 70.
Research published in the JAMA Otolaryngology Neck Surgery revealed that people with untreated hearing loss have a hard time communicating with others and that probably 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 conditions have been connected to neglected hearing loss such as:
- Social withdrawal
- Lack of focus
Psychological strain and sadness are the result when a person can’t communicate effectively and stops trying.
4. Relationship Troubles
Hearing loss impacts more than just your physical and mental health. 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.
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-five percent of men Had to be pressured into getting treatment by their partner or spouse before they would agree to it.
- Thirty-seven percent of women questioned reported being irritated 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
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. Make an appointment with a hearing care specialist to find out what option works best for you.