Picture hearing loss and many people picture an elderly person with an out-dated hearing aid saying, “What’s that sonny”? Hearing loss impacts more than just your ability to hear and has increased sharply among all age groups. If it goes untreated it can cause startling repercussions. Based solely on these four, it’s worth having your hearing tested.
1. Cognitive Decline
There is an association between hearing loss and other health issues, though you may not have previously known about them. Your cognitive function and brain health are the most significant example. Hearing decline is the true cause of certain conditions which some people connect with aging.
The brain has an incredible ability to adapt to sensory changes, but that backfires when it comes to hearing loss. For somebody with regular hearing, a sound is processed through the inner ear in a way that the brain can understand. This mechanism allows you to know the difference between the music coming from your car stereo and the music the ice cream truck plays when it drives down your street.
Even if you don’t notice it, the brain experiences sound every microsecond. If you are sitting in a quiet room, there is still background noise around you, like the hiss of air blowing through 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. The brain doesn’t get the same quality or quantity of sound when there is loss of hearing. Believing the missing sound should still be there, it strains to find it. The fatigue on the brain and absence of stimuli can cause cognitive decline that raises your risk of dementia later on in life. Studies show 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 enhance cognitive ability.
2. Stomach Problems
That’s not as much of a stretch as it seems. Hearing loss leads to changes which are associated with:
- Muscle tension
- Upset stomach
The ongoing stress can manifest intestinal issues like:
- Abdominal cramps
As the discomfort increases, you might end up with a more severe intestinal condition like Irritable Bowel Syndrome (IBS).
3. Mental Health Concerns
More than likely, the most obvious side effect is the affect hearing loss has on your mental health. A 2014 study found that an increase in depression correlates to a decline of hearing in adults below the age of 70.
The depression is likely accounted for by the fact that people who have hearing loss have a difficult time communicating with others, according to JAMA Otolaryngology Neck Surgery. The research indicates that depression is more prominent in women between the ages of 18 to 69.
Through the years, the untreated hearing loss has been linked to many mental health problems like:
- Social withdrawal
- Lack of focus
People who can’t successfully communicate stop trying and that leads to sadness and psychological anxiety.
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 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, too. 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 relationships with family members and friends were a significant concern with the hearing loss
- Thirty-seven percent of women interviewed reported being annoyed when someone who has hearing loss wasn’t listening to them
- Thirty-five percent of men Had to be pressured into getting treatment by their partner or spouse before they would agree to it.
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. The good news is many of these side effects go away or lesson when you get help such as hearing aids. Schedule a hearing test to find out what course of action will work best for you.