Visualize hearing loss and the majority of people imagine an elderly person with an old-fashioned hearing aid saying, “What’s that sonny”? Hearing loss impacts more than just your ability to hear and has increased sharply amongst all age groups. Surprising repercussions result from not having it treated. These four by themselves make it worth having your hearing tested.
1. Cognitive Decline
There is an association between hearing loss and other health problems, even though you might not have previously been aware of them. Brain health and cognitive function are the most serious examples. Some conditions commonly connected to aging are actually caused by hearing loss.
When it comes to hearing loss, the brain’s natural ability to adjust 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 playing on your car stereo and the music the ice cream truck plays as it heads down your street.
Each microsecond, the brain encounters sound even if you don’t notice it. Air hissing in through a vent and other ambient sounds are around you even if you are sitting 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. All of a sudden, when there is hearing loss, the brain doesn’t get the same quality or quantity of sound. It still thinks it’s there, though and struggles to find 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 have shown that memory loss and cognitive decline is around 40 percent higher in seniors who suffer from 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 get hearing aids.
2. Gut Trouble
That seems like a stretch, but it’s not. The changes you experience because of hearing loss have been connected to side effects like:
- Upset stomach
- Muscle tension
The constant stress can cause intestinal issues like:
- Abdominal cramps
Irritable bowel syndrome or other more severe conditions will develop as the discomfort increases.
3. Mental Health Problems
Probably, the most noticeable side effect is the affect hearing loss has on your mental health. A 2014 study found that a loss in hearing correlates to a rise in depression 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 indicates that depression is more pronounced in women between the ages of 18 to 69.
Over the years, the untreated hearing loss has been connected to many mental health problems like:
- Lack of focus
- Social withdrawal
People stop trying if they can’t communicate successfully and that leads to sadness and psychological stress.
4. Troubled Relationships
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.
Hearing loss creates problems in personal relationships, as well. 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 Had to be pressured into getting treatment by their partner or spouse before they would agree to it.
- Forty-three percent of men indicated that they had trouble with relationships due to their hearing loss
- Most women indicated relationships with family members and friends were a significant concern with the hearing loss
- Thirty-seven percent of women interviewed reported getting irritated when someone with hearing loss wasn’t listening to them
Hearing loss affects your health, your self-esteem, and your relationships. 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 learn what solution works best for you.