Visualize hearing loss and the majority of people picture an elderly person with an old-fashioned hearing aid saying, “What’s that sonny”? Impacting more than just your ability to hear, hearing loss has risen sharply among all age groups. Startling consequences result from failing to get it treated. These four alone make it worth having your hearing checked.
1. Cognitive Decline
There is an association between hearing loss and other health problems, although you might not have previously been aware of them. Your cognitive function and brain health are the most significant example. Some conditions generally connected to aging are in fact caused by hearing loss.
When it comes to hearing loss, the brain’s innate ability to adapt to sensory changes backfires. Sound is processed through the inner ear in a way the brain can understand if 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.
The brain experiences sound every microsecond whether you think you are hearing something or not. Air hissing in through a vent and other ambient sounds are around you even if you are resting 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. The brain doesn’t get the same quality or quantity of sound when there is loss of hearing. It strains to hear the missing sound believing it should still be present. The absence of stimuli causes the brain to stress resulting in cognitive decline and a higher risk of dementia. Studies show that memory loss and cognitive decline is about 40 percent higher in seniors who suffer from hearing loss. Even more persuasive is the fact that people have been shown to improve their cognitive functions if they have hearing loss and invest in hearing aids.
2. Stomach Issues
That’s not as far-fetched as it seems. Side effects connected to changes you experience because of hearing loss are:
- Muscle tension
- Upset stomach
The ongoing stress can cause intestinal issues like:
- Abdominal cramps
As the discomfort increases, you could find yourself with a more severe intestinal condition like Irritable Bowel Syndrome (IBS).
3. Mental Health Problems
The impact hearing loss has on your mental health is more than likely the most obvious side effect. A 2014 study found that a loss in hearing correlates to a rise in depression in adults under the age of 70.
The depression is most likely accounted for by the fact that people with hearing loss have a hard time communicating with others, according to JAMA Otolaryngology Neck Surgery. The research shows that for women between the ages of 18 to 69 the depression is more pronounced.
Through the years, the neglected hearing loss has been linked to many mental health problems such as:
- Lack of focus
- Social withdrawal
Psychological strain and depression are the outcome when someone can’t communicate successfully and stops trying.
4. Relationship Troubles
The side effects of hearing loss invade more than your physical and mental health. People with poor hearing statistically 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 causes problems in personal relationships, too. A 2007 survey found 35 percent of the respondents with hearing loss had trouble maintaining relationships. The survey showed:
- Thirty-seven percent of women interviewed reported getting annoyed when somebody who has 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
- Forty-three percent of men indicated that they had trouble with relationships due to their hearing loss
Hearing loss has an effect on your relationships as well as your health and your self-esteem. What’s promising is many of these side effects disappear or lesson when you get help like hearing aids. Make an appointment with a hearing care specialist to learn what solution works best for you.