Imagine hearing loss and many people imagine an older person with an out-dated hearing aid saying, “What’s that sonny”? The fact is, hearing loss has risen sharply amongst all age groups and it has an effect on more than just your ability to hear. There are surprising health repercussions for people who neglect it. Based only on these four, it’s worth having your hearing tested.
1. Mental Decline
Though you might not have previously known it, hearing loss can influence your overall health. Brain health and cognitive function are the most serious examples. Hearing decline is the true cause of certain conditions which some people associate with aging.
The brain has an extraordinary ability to adapt to sensory changes, but that backfires when it comes to hearing loss. The brain can understand sound that is processed through the inner ear when hearing is normal. It’s that mechanism of hearing that permits you to identify the difference between the music coming from your car radio and the music the ice cream truck plays as it drives down your street.
Even if you’re not aware of it, the brain encounters sound every microsecond. There is still ambient sound around you even if you are relaxing in a quiet room, such as air hissing in through a vent. Your brain filters it out because it decides you don’t need to hear it.
The brain comes to count on this stimulus. Suddenly, when there is hearing loss, the brain doesn’t get the same quality or quantity of sound. Believing the missing sound should still be there, it strains to find it. The lack of stimuli causes the brain to stress resulting in cognitive decline and a greater risk of dementia. Seniors have a forty percent higher rate of memory loss and cognitive decline if they have hearing loss, according to studies. Even more persuasive, people with hearing loss that get treatment like hearings aids have been shown to improve cognitive function.
2. Gut Trouble
That seems like it might seem far-fetched, but it’s not. The changes you experience due to hearing loss have been related to side effects like:
- Muscle tension
- Upset stomach
The constant stress can cause intestinal issues like:
- Abdominal cramps
Irritable bowel syndrome or other more serious conditions will develop as the discomfort increases.
3. Mental Health Concerns
The most significant side effect is probably 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 under the age of 70.
People with hearing loss have a tough time communicating with others, according to JAMA Otolaryngology Neck Surgery, and that probably accounts for the depression. The research indicates that for women between the ages of 18 to 69 the depression is more pronounced.
Over the years, the neglected hearing loss has been connected to many mental health conditions such as:
- Social withdrawal
- Lack of focus
People stop trying if they can’t communicate effectively and that leads to sadness and psychological strain.
4. Troubled Relationships
The side effects of hearing loss invade more than your physical and mental health. 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.
Personal relationships also suffer because of hearing loss. A 2007 survey found 35 percent of the respondents with hearing loss had trouble maintaining relationships. The survey showed:
- Most women indicated relationships with family members and friends were a significant concern with the hearing loss
- Thirty-seven percent of women surveyed reported getting irritated when somebody with hearing loss wasn’t listening to them
- Forty-three percent of men indicated that they had trouble with relationships due to their hearing loss
- Thirty-five percent of men reported they agreed to treatment for hearing loss because their spouse or partner pressured them into it
Hearing loss affects your health, your self-esteem, as well as your relationships. When you get hearing aids quite a few of these side effects disappear and that’s good news. Schedule an appointment with a hearing specialist to find out what course of action is best for you.