Most people picture an elderly person saying “what’s that sonny” when they think of hearing loss. Having an effect on more than just your ability to hear, hearing loss has escalated sharply amongst all age groups. Surprising repercussions result from not having it taken care of. Based only on these four, it’s worth having your hearing tested.
1. Mental Decline
While you might not have previously known it, hearing loss can influence your general health. Brain health and cognitive function are the most serious examples. There is evidence that some conditions people associate with aging, like memory loss, might actually be caused by hearing decline.
The brain has an incredible ability to adapt to sensory changes, but that backfires when it comes to hearing loss. Sound is processed through the inner ear in a way the brain can understand if hearing is normal. The difference between the music coming from your car radio and the music the ice cream truck plays as it heads down the street is sorted out by this mechanism.
Every microsecond, the brain experiences sound even if you’re not aware of it. Air hissing in through a vent and other ambient sounds are all 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 loss of hearing, the brain doesn’t get the same quality or quantity of sound. It still thinks it’s there, though and struggles to find it. The absence of stimuli causes stress to the brain leading to cognitive decline and a greater risk of dementia. Studies show that memory loss and cognitive decline is around 40 percent greater in seniors who suffer from hearing loss. People have been shown, even more compellingly, to improve their cognitive functions if they suffer from hearing loss and they get hearing aids.
2. Gut Problems
That seems like a stretch, but it’s not. Side effects associated with changes you experience due to hearing loss are:
- Muscle tension
- Upset stomach
The ongoing strain can cause intestinal problems like:
- Abdominal cramps
More severe conditions such as irritable bowel syndrome will happen as your discomfort increases.
3. Mental Health Problems
The affect hearing loss has on your mental health is more than likely the most obvious side effect. A 2014 study found that in adults below the age of 70, an increase in depression correlates to a decline in hearing.
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 accounts for the depression. The research indicates that depression is more prominent in women between the ages of 18 to 69.
Over the years, many mental health conditions have been connected to untreated hearing loss such as:
- Social withdrawal
- Lack of focus
People stop trying if they can’t communicate successfully and that leads to depression and psychological stress.
4. Relationship Troubles
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.
Hearing loss brings about 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:
- Most women indicated that hearing loss was a significant concern when communicating with friends and family members.
- 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 interviewed reported being annoyed when someone with hearing loss wasn’t listening to them
- Forty-three percent of men indicated that hearing loss caused relationship problems
How you feel about yourself and the world and the state of your health are impacted by hearing loss. It also has an effect on your relationships. When you get hearing aids many of these side effects go away and that’s good news. Make an appointment with a hearing care specialist to learn what option works best for you.