Picture hearing loss and the majority of people imagine an elderly person with an old-fashioned hearing aid saying, “What’s that sonny”? Impacting more than just your ability to hear, hearing loss has risen dramatically amongst all age groups. If it is left untreated it can cause alarming consequences. These four alone make it worth having your hearing checked.
1. Cognitive Decline
There is an association between hearing loss and other health issues, though you may not have previously been aware of them. Your cognitive function and brain health are the most significant example. There is evidence that some conditions people associate with aging, such as memory loss, might really be caused by hearing decline.
The brain has a fantastic 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.
The brain encounters sound each microsecond whether you think you are hearing something or not. If you are relaxing in a quiet room, there is still background noise around you, like the hiss of air coming into the AC vent. You don’t notice it because your brain filters it out.
This stimulus is something the brain comes to expect. All of a sudden, when there is hearing loss, the brain doesn’t get the same quality or quantity 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. Studies have shown that memory loss and cognitive decline is about 40 percent greater in seniors who suffer from hearing loss. People have been shown, even more compellingly, to increase their cognitive ability if they suffer from hearing loss and they invest in hearing aids.
2. Stomach Trouble
That seems like a stretch, but it’s not. Hearing loss leads to changes which are connected to:
- Upset stomach
- Muscle tension
The continuous strain 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
Probably, 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 decline in hearing.
People who suffer from hearing loss have a hard time communicating with others, according to JAMA Otolaryngology Neck Surgery, and that most likely accounts for the depression. The research suggests that depression is more prominent in women between the ages of 18 to 69.
Over the years, many mental health problems have been linked to untreated hearing loss such as:
- Social withdrawal
- Lack of focus
People stop trying if they can’t communicate effectively and that causes sadness and psychological anxiety.
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 20,000 dollars per year less is made by individuals with hearing loss in comparison to their hearing colleagues.
Hearing loss creates 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:
- Forty-three percent of men indicated that they had trouble with relationships due to their hearing loss
- 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 who has hearing loss wasn’t listening to them
Hearing loss has an effect on your relationships as well as your health and how you feel about yourself. The good news is many of these side effects go away or lesson when you get help such as hearing aids. Make an appointment with a hearing care specialist to learn what solution works best for you.