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. Affecting more than just your ability to hear, hearing loss has risen sharply amongst all age groups. There are alarming health repercussions for people who neglect it. Based only on these four, it’s worth having your hearing tested.
1. Cognitive Decline
While you might not have previously known it, hearing loss can impact your overall health. The most serious is the impact hearing loss has on your cognitive functions and brain health. Hearing decline is the true cause of certain conditions which some people connect with aging.
The brain’s inherent ability to adapt to sensory changes backfires when it comes to hearing. Sound is processed through the inner ear in a way the brain can understand if hearing is normal. 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 goes down your street.
Every microsecond, the brain encounters sound even if you don’t notice it. Air hissing in through a vent and other background sounds are around you even if you are resting in a quiet room. You don’t even notice it because your brain filters it out.
The brain comes to expect this stimulus. When there is loss of hearing, all of a sudden it doesn’t get the same quantity or quality of sound. Thinking the missing sound should still be there, it struggles to find it. The absence of stimuli causes the brain to stress bringing about cognitive decline and a higher risk of dementia. Seniors have a forty percent higher instance of memory loss and cognitive decline if they suffer from hearing loss, according to studies. Even more compelling, people with hearing loss that get treatment like hearings aids have been shown to improve cognitive ability.
2. Stomach Problems
That seems like it might seem far-fetched, but it’s not. Hearing loss leads to changes which are related to:
- Upset stomach
- Muscle tension
The continuous strain can cause intestinal issues like:
- Abdominal cramps
More severe conditions such as irritable bowel syndrome will occur as your discomfort increases.
3. Mental Health Problems
More than likely, the most apparent side effect is the affect hearing loss has on your mental health. A 2014 study found that a loss in hearing correlates to a rise in depression in adults below the age of 70.
The depression is likely accounted for by the fact that people who suffer from hearing loss have a hard 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 pronounced.
Over the years, many mental health problems have been linked to neglected hearing loss such as:
- Social withdrawal
- Lack of focus
People stop trying if they can’t communicate effectively and that causes depression and psychological stress.
4. Relationship Troubles
Your physical and mental health are not the only things that are impacted by hearing loss. Statistically, people make less money if they have hearing loss. 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.
Hearing loss brings about 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:
- Thirty-seven percent of women questioned reported being irritated when somebody 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.
- Most women indicated that hearing loss was a significant concern when communicating with friends and family members.
- Forty-three percent of men indicated that they had trouble with relationships due to their hearing loss
Hearing loss has an effect on your relationships as well as your health and how you feel about yourself. When you get hearing aids many of these side effects go away and that’s good news. Make an appointment with a hearing care specialist to learn what solution works best for you.