Picture hearing loss and the majority of people imagine an older person with an old-fashioned hearing aid saying, “What’s that sonny”? Hearing loss impacts more than just your ability to hear and has increased sharply amongst every age group. If it goes untreated it can cause surprising consequences. These four alone make it worth having your hearing examined.
1. Mental Decline
Hearing is a sense that you may not link to other health problems but there is an association. The most serious is the impact hearing loss has on your cognitive functions and brain health. Some conditions commonly associated with aging are in fact caused by hearing loss.
The brain’s innate ability to adapt to sensory changes backfires when it comes to hearing. For somebody with regular hearing, a sound is processed through the inner ear in a way that the brain can understand. 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 processed by this mechanism.
Each microsecond, the brain experiences sound even if you’re not aware of it. Air hissing in through a vent and other background sounds are all around you even if you are relaxing 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. It still thinks it’s there, though and strains to hear it. The absence of stimuli causes the brain to stress leading to cognitive decline and a greater risk of dementia. Studies show that memory loss and cognitive decline is around 40 percent higher in seniors who suffer from hearing loss. Even more persuasive is the fact that people have been shown to increase their cognitive functions if they suffer from hearing loss and get hearing aids.
2. Gut Issues
That’s not as far-fetched as it seems. Side effects related to changes you experience because of hearing loss are:
- Upset stomach
- Muscle tension
The continuous strain can cause intestinal problems like:
- Abdominal cramps
Irritable bowel syndrome or other more severe conditions will develop as the discomfort increases.
3. Mental Health Problems
The impact hearing loss has on your mental health is more than likely 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.
Research published in the JAMA Otolaryngology Neck Surgery revealed that people who have untreated hearing loss have a hard time communicating with others and that most likely accounts for the depression. The research shows that depression is more pronounced 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 who can’t successfully communicate stop trying and that results in depression and psychological stress.
4. Troubled Relationships
Your physical and mental health are not the only things that are impacted by hearing loss. Statistically, people make less money if they have hearing loss. 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.
Hearing loss causes problems in personal relationships, too. A 2007 survey found 35 percent of the respondents with hearing loss had trouble maintaining relationships. The survey showed:
- Thirty-five percent of men Had to be pressured into getting treatment by their partner or spouse before they would agree to it.
- Most women indicated relationships with family members and friends were a significant concern with the hearing loss
- Forty-three percent of men indicated that hearing loss caused relationship problems
- Thirty-seven percent of women questioned reported getting frustrated when someone with hearing loss wasn’t listening to them
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. The good news 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 is best for you.