Imagine hearing loss and many people picture an older person with an old-fashioned hearing aid saying, “What’s that sonny”? Having an effect on more than just your ability to hear, hearing loss has risen sharply amongst all age groups. If it is left untreated it can cause alarming consequences. It’s worth getting your hearing examined based only on these four.
1. Mental Decline
Even though you may not have previously known it, hearing loss can affect your general health. The most significant is the impact hearing loss has on your cognitive functions and brain health. Some conditions frequently connected to aging are really caused by hearing loss.
The brain’s natural ability to adjust to sensory changes backfires when it comes to hearing. 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 processed by this mechanism.
Every microsecond, the brain encounters sound even if you’re not aware of it. Air hissing in through a vent and other ambient sounds are 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.
The brain comes to count on this stimulus. When there is hearing loss, suddenly it doesn’t get the same quantity or quality of sound. Thinking the missing sound should still be there, it struggles to find it. Your chance of dementia is increased because the absence of stimuli causes cognitive decline due to 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, people with hearing loss that get treatment like hearings aids have been shown to enhance cognitive ability.
2. Gut Trouble
That’s not as much of a stretch as it seems. Hearing loss leads to changes which are connected to:
- Upset stomach
- Muscle tension
The constant strain can cause intestinal problems like:
- Abdominal cramps
More severe conditions such as irritable bowel syndrome will occur as your discomfort increases.
3. Mental Health Concerns
More than likely, the most noticeable side effect is the affect hearing loss has on your mental health. A 2014 study found that in adults under the age of 70, an increase in depression correlates to a loss of hearing.
People with hearing loss have a hard time communicating with others, according to JAMA Otolaryngology Neck Surgery, 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 problems have been connected to untreated hearing loss such as:
- Social withdrawal
- Lack of focus
People who can’t effectively communicate stop trying and that results in depression and psychological anxiety.
4. Troubled Relationships
The side effects 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 individuals with untreated hearing loss make on average 20,000 dollars less a year than their hearing colleagues.
Hearing loss creates problems in personal relationships, too. A 2007 survey found 35 percent of the respondents with hearing loss had trouble maintaining relationships. The survey showed:
- 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 frustrated when somebody with hearing loss wasn’t listening to them
- 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 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. What’s promising is many of these side effects go away or lesson when you get help such as hearing aids. Schedule an appointment with a hearing specialist to find out what course of action will work best for you.