An elderly person with an out-dated hearing aid saying “what’s that sonny”, is what many people think about when hearing loss is discussed. Affecting more than just your ability to hear, hearing loss has escalated dramatically among all age groups. There are alarming health consequences for people who neglect it. It’s worth having your hearing checked based only on these four.
1. Cognitive Decline
Although you might not have previously known it, hearing loss can impact your general health. The most significant is the impact hearing loss has on your cognitive functions and brain health. Hearing decline is actually the cause of certain conditions which some people connect with aging.
The brain’s innate ability to adapt to sensory changes backfires when it comes to hearing. The brain can understand sound that is processed through the inner ear when 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 processed by this mechanism.
The brain experiences sound each microsecond whether you think you are hearing something or not. Air hissing in through a vent and other background sounds are all around you even if you are resting in a quiet room. You don’t notice it because your brain filters it out.
The brain comes to expect this stimulus. All of a sudden, when there is loss of hearing, the brain doesn’t get the same quality or quantity of sound. It still expects it to be there, though and strains to hear it. Your risk of dementia is increased because the absence of stimuli causes cognitive decline due to increased stress on the brain. Studies have shown that memory loss and cognitive decline is around 40 percent greater in seniors who suffer from hearing loss. Even more persuasive, people who suffer from hearing loss that get treatment like hearings aids have been shown to improve cognitive function.
2. Stomach Issues
That seems like it might seem far-fetched, but it’s not. The changes you experience because of hearing loss have been associated with side effects like:
- Muscle tension
- Upset stomach
The constant stress can manifest intestinal issues like:
- Abdominal cramps
Irritable bowel syndrome or other more severe conditions will develop as the discomfort increases.
3. Mental Health Problems
The most obvious side effect is probably the impact hearing loss has on your mental health. A 2014 study found that an increase in depression correlates to the loss of hearing in adults under the age of 70.
People who suffer from hearing loss have a hard time communicating with others, according to JAMA Otolaryngology Neck Surgery, and that likely accounts for the depression. The research shows that for women between the ages of 18 to 69 the depression is more prominent.
Through the years, the neglected hearing loss has been connected to many mental health problems including:
- Lack of focus
- Social withdrawal
People stop trying if they can’t communicate effectively and that causes depression and psychological strain.
4. Troubled Relationships
Your physical and mental health are not the only things that are impacted by hearing loss. 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 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:
- 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 surveyed reported getting irritated when someone with hearing loss wasn’t listening to them
- Most women indicated that hearing loss was a significant concern when communicating with friends and family members.
- Forty-three percent of men indicated that they had trouble with relationships due to their hearing loss
Hearing loss has an effect on your relationships as well as your health and your self-esteem. What’s promising is many of these side effects disappear or lesson when you get help like hearing aids. Make an appointment with a hearing care specialist to find out what option works best for you.