An elderly person with an out-dated hearing aid saying “what’s that sonny”, is what the majority of people think of when hearing loss is mentioned. Having an effect on more than just your ability to hear, hearing loss has escalated sharply among all age groups. If it is left untreated it can cause startling consequences. These four by themselves make it worth having your hearing tested.
1. Cognitive Decline
Though you might not have previously known it, hearing loss can impact your overall health. The most significant is the impact hearing loss has on your cognitive functions and brain health. There is evidence that some conditions people connect with aging, like memory loss, might really be caused by hearing decline.
When it comes to hearing loss, the brain’s inherent ability to adapt to sensory changes backfires. 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 permits 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.
Each microsecond, the brain encounters sound even if you don’t notice it. If you are relaxing in a quiet room, there is still ambient noise around you, like the hiss of air blowing through the AC vent. Your brain filters it out because it decides you don’t need to hear it.
The brain comes to count on this stimulus. All of a sudden, when there is hearing loss, the brain doesn’t get the same quality or quantity of sound. Believing the missing sound should still be there, it struggles to find it. The absence of stimuli causes the brain to stress bringing about cognitive decline and a higher risk of dementia. Memory loss and cognitive decline are forty percent more common in seniors with hearing loss, according to studies. People have been shown, even more compellingly, to increase their cognitive ability if they suffer from hearing loss and they invest in hearing aids.
2. Stomach Issues
That’s not as much of a stretch as it seems. Side effects connected to changes you experience because of hearing loss are:
- Muscle tension
- Upset stomach
The constant strain can manifest intestinal problems like:
- Abdominal cramps
As the discomfort increases, you might find yourself with a more serious intestinal condition like Irritable Bowel Syndrome (IBS).
3. Mental Health Concerns
The affect hearing loss has on your mental health is probably the most obvious side effect. A 2014 study found that an increase in depression correlates to a decline of hearing in adults below the age of 70.
The study published in the JAMA Otolaryngology Neck Surgery revealed that people who suffer from untreated hearing loss find it difficult communicating with others and that most likely accounts for the depression. The research shows that for women between the ages of 18 to 69 the depression is more pronounced.
Over the years, many mental health conditions have been connected to untreated hearing loss such as:
- Lack of focus
- Social withdrawal
People who aren’t able to successfully communicate stop trying and that leads to depression and psychological anxiety.
4. Relationship Troubles
The adverse reactions of hearing loss impacts 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.
Personal relationships also suffer because of hearing loss. 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 that hearing loss was a significant concern when communicating with friends and family members.
- Forty-three percent of men indicated that hearing loss caused relationship problems
- 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 being frustrated when somebody who has hearing loss wasn’t listening to them
Hearing loss affects your health, your self-esteem, as well as your relationships. What’s promising is many of these side effects go away or lesson when you get help like hearing aids. Schedule a hearing test to find out what course of action will work best for you.