Most people picture an older person saying “what’s that sonny” when they picture hearing loss. Affecting more than just your ability to hear, hearing loss has increased sharply among all age groups. Startling consequences result from failing to get it treated. Based solely on these four, it’s worth having your hearing tested.
1. Mental Decline
Hearing is a sense that you may not link to other health problems but there is a connection. The most serious is the impact hearing loss has on your cognitive functions and brain health. Some conditions commonly connected to aging are in fact caused by hearing loss.
The brain has an impressive ability to adapt to sensory changes, but that backfires when it comes to hearing loss. The brain can understand sound that is processed through the inner ear when hearing is normal. This mechanism enables you to tell the difference between the music coming from your car stereo and the music the ice cream truck plays as it drives down your street.
Even if you don’t notice it, the brain encounters sound every microsecond. There is still ambient sound around you even if you are relaxing in a quiet room, such as air hissing in through a vent. You don’t notice it because your brain filters it out.
This stimulus is something the brain comes to expect. Suddenly, when there is hearing loss, the brain doesn’t get the same quality or quantity of sound. It still expects it to be there, though and struggles to hear it. The fatigue on the brain and lack of stimuli can result in cognitive decline that increases your risk of dementia later on in your life. Seniors have a forty percent higher instance of memory loss and cognitive decline if they have hearing loss, according to studies. Even more compelling, people with hearing loss that get treatment like hearings aids have been shown to enhance cognitive function.
2. Stomach Trouble
That seems like it might seem far-fetched, but it’s not. Side effects related to changes you experience due to hearing loss are:
- Upset stomach
- Muscle tension
The continuous strain can manifest intestinal problems like:
- Abdominal cramps
As the discomfort increases, you might find yourself with a more severe intestinal condition like Irritable Bowel Syndrome (IBS).
3. Mental Health Concerns
The affect hearing loss has on your mental health is more than likely the most noticeable side effect. A 2014 study found that a decline in hearing correlates to an increase in depression in adults below the age of 70.
Research published in the JAMA Otolaryngology Neck Surgery revealed that people who suffer from untreated hearing loss have a hard time communicating with others and that likely is the reason for the depression. The research suggests that depression is more pronounced in women between the ages of 18 to 69.
Through the years, the neglected hearing loss has been linked to many mental health problems such as:
- Social withdrawal
- Lack of focus
People who can’t effectively communicate stop trying and that leads to depression and psychological stress.
4. Troubled Relationships
Your physical and mental health are not the only things that are impacted by hearing loss. 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:
- Thirty-five percent of men reported they agreed to treatment for hearing loss because their spouse or partner pressured them into it
- Most women indicated relationships with family members and friends were a significant concern with the hearing loss
- Thirty-seven percent of women surveyed reported getting annoyed when somebody with hearing loss wasn’t listening to them
- Forty-three percent of men indicated that hearing loss caused relationship problems
Your self-esteem and the state of your health are affected by hearing loss. It also has an effect on your relationships. When you get hearing aids many 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.