Most people picture an older person saying “what’s that sonny” when they picture hearing loss. Affecting more than just your ability to hear, hearing loss has increased dramatically amongst all age groups. If it goes untreated it can cause startling effects. It’s worth having your hearing tested based only on these four.
1. Cognitive Decline
Although you might not have previously known it, hearing loss can influence your general health. Brain health and cognitive function are the most significant examples. Some conditions generally connected to aging are in fact caused by hearing loss.
The brain has an incredible ability to adapt to sensory changes, but that backfires when it comes to hearing loss. For somebody with normal hearing, a sound is processed through the inner ear in a way that the brain can understand. It’s that mechanism of hearing that permits you to recognize the difference between the music coming from your car radio and the music the ice cream truck plays as it drives down your street.
The brain experiences sound every microsecond whether you think you are hearing something or not. There is still ambient sound around you even if you are resting in a quiet room, such as air hissing in through a vent. Your brain interprets this as a sound you don’t need to hear, so you don’t even notice it.
This stimulus is something the brain comes to expect. When there is hearing loss, suddenly it doesn’t receive the same quantity or quality of sound. Believing the missing sound should still be there, it struggles to find it. The stress on the brain and absence of stimuli can cause cognitive decline that raises your risk of dementia later on in your life. Studies show that memory loss and cognitive decline is around 40 percent higher in seniors with hearing loss. Even more compelling, people who suffer from 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. Side effects related to changes you experience because of hearing loss are:
- Muscle tension
- Upset stomach
The continuous 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 noticeable side effect is probably the affect hearing loss has on your mental health. A 2014 study found that in adults below the age of 70, an increase in depression correlates to a loss of hearing.
The depression is likely accounted for by the fact that people who suffer from hearing loss have a difficult time communicating with others, according to JAMA Otolaryngology Neck Surgery. The research suggests that for women between the ages of 18 to 69 the depression is more prominent.
Through the years, the untreated 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 successfully and that leads to depression and psychological anxiety.
4. Relationship Troubles
The negative effects of hearing loss invade more than your physical and mental health. 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 with hearing loss had trouble maintaining relationships. The survey showed:
- Thirty-seven percent of women questioned reported getting irritated when somebody who has hearing loss wasn’t listening to them
- Forty-three percent of men indicated that hearing loss caused relationship problems
- Thirty-five percent of men reported they agreed to treatment for hearing loss because their spouse or partner pressured them into it
- Most women indicated relationships with family members and friends were a significant concern with the hearing loss
Hearing loss has an effect on your relationships as well as your health and your self-esteem. When you get hearing aids many of these side effects go away and that’s good news. Schedule a hearing test to find out what course of action is best for you.