An older person with an old-fashioned hearing aid saying “what’s that sonny”, is what many people think about when hearing loss is discussed. The fact is, hearing loss has risen dramatically among all age groups and it impacts more than just your ability to hear. If it goes untreated it can cause alarming consequences. It’s worth getting your hearing checked based only on these four.
1. Mental Decline
Hearing is a sense that you might not link to other health issues but there is a connection. Brain health and cognitive function are the most serious examples. There is evidence that some conditions people connect with aging, like memory loss, might actually be caused by hearing decline.
When it comes to hearing loss, the brain’s natural ability to adjust to sensory changes backfires. For somebody with regular hearing, a sound is processed through the inner ear in a way that the brain can understand. This mechanism enables you to tell the difference between the music coming from your car stereo and the music the ice cream truck plays when it heads down your street.
The brain encounters sound every microsecond whether you think you are hearing something or not. Air hissing in through a vent and other ambient sounds are all around you even if you are resting 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. Suddenly, 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 strains to find it. Your risk of dementia is increased as the absence of stimuli causes cognitive decline as a result of increased stress on the brain. Memory loss and cognitive decline are forty percent more common in seniors with hearing loss, according to studies. Even more compelling is the fact that people have been shown to improve their cognitive functions if they suffer from hearing loss and invest in hearing aids.
2. Gut Issues
That’s not as much of a stretch as it seems. Side effects related to changes you experience due to hearing loss are:
- Muscle tension
- Upset stomach
The constant stress can manifest intestinal problems like:
- Abdominal cramps
As the discomfort increases, you could end up with a more serious intestinal condition like Irritable Bowel Syndrome (IBS).
3. Mental Health Concerns
Probably, the most obvious side effect is the affect hearing loss has on your mental health. A 2014 study found that an increase in depression correlates to a decline of hearing in adults under the age of 70.
Research published in the JAMA Otolaryngology Neck Surgery revealed that people with untreated hearing loss find it difficult communicating with others and that most 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, many mental health conditions have been linked to neglected hearing loss such as:
- Lack of focus
- Social withdrawal
Psychological strain and sadness are the outcome when a person can’t communicate successfully and stops trying.
4. Troubled Relationships
Hearing loss impacts more than just your physical and mental health. Statistically, people make less money if they have hearing loss. 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-seven percent of women questioned reported getting irritated when someone with hearing loss wasn’t listening to them
- 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-five percent of men Had to be pressured into getting treatment by their partner or spouse before they would agree to it.
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 quite a few of these side effects go away and that’s good news. Make an appointment with a hearing care specialist to learn what solution works best for you.