An elderly person with an out-dated hearing aid saying “what’s that sonny”, is what the majority of people think about when hearing loss is mentioned. Having an effect on more than just your ability to hear, hearing loss has increased sharply amongst all age groups. If it goes untreated it can cause alarming effects. It’s worth having your hearing examined based solely on these four.
1. Mental Decline
While you may not have previously known it, hearing loss can influence your overall health. Brain health and cognitive function are the most significant examples. There is evidence that some conditions people associate with aging, like memory loss, might actually be caused by hearing decline.
When it comes to hearing loss, the brain’s inherent ability to adjust to sensory changes backfires. 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 sorted out by this mechanism.
Even if you don’t notice it, the brain encounters sound every microsecond. If you are sitting in a quiet room, there is still ambient noise around you, like the hiss of air coming into the AC vent. Your brain filters it out because it decides you don’t need to hear it.
The brain comes to expect this stimulus. 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 leads to 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 such as hearings aids have been shown to improve cognitive ability.
2. Stomach Trouble
That’s not as far-fetched as it seems. The changes you experience because of hearing loss have been associated with side effects like:
- Upset stomach
- Muscle tension
The continuous strain can cause intestinal issues like:
- Abdominal cramps
More severe conditions such as irritable bowel syndrome will happen as your discomfort increases.
3. Mental Health Concerns
The impact hearing loss has on your mental health is probably the most significant side effect. A 2014 study found that a loss in hearing correlates to an increase in depression in adults under the age of 70.
People with hearing loss have a tough 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, the neglected hearing loss has been connected to many mental health conditions like:
- Social withdrawal
- Lack of focus
Psychological stress and sadness are the result when a person can’t communicate effectively and stops trying.
4. Troubled Relationships
Your physical and mental health are not the only things that are impacted by hearing loss. People with poor hearing statistically 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.
Personal relationships also suffer because of hearing loss. 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 reported they agreed to treatment for hearing loss because their spouse or partner pressured them into it
- 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-seven percent of women interviewed reported being annoyed when somebody who has hearing loss wasn’t listening to them
How you feel about yourself and the world and the state of your health are affected by hearing loss. It also has an effect on your relationships. When you get hearing aids many of these side effects go away and that’s good news. Schedule an appointment with a hearing specialist to find out what course of action is best for you.