An elderly person with an old-fashioned hearing aid saying “what’s that sonny”, is what most people think about when hearing loss is mentioned. Affecting more than just your ability to hear, hearing loss has risen sharply among all age groups. There are surprising health consequences for people who neglect it. These four alone make it worth having your hearing checked.
1. Cognitive Decline
While you might not have previously known it, hearing loss can influence your general health. Brain health and cognitive function are the most significant 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 allows you to identify the difference between the music coming from your car radio and the music the ice cream truck plays as it goes down your street.
The brain experiences sound each microsecond whether you think you are hearing something or not. Air hissing in through a vent and other background sounds are around you even if you are sitting in a quiet room. You don’t notice it because your brain filters it out.
The brain comes to expect this stimulus. The brain doesn’t get the same quality or quantity of sound when there is hearing loss. It still expects it to be there, though and strains to hear it. The fatigue on the brain and lack of stimuli can bring about cognitive decline that increases your risk of dementia later on in your life. Memory loss and cognitive decline are forty percent more common in seniors with hearing loss, according to studies. Even more persuasive, people with hearing loss that get treatment like hearings aids have been shown to enhance cognitive function.
2. Gut Problems
That seems like it might seem far-fetched, but it’s not. Hearing loss leads to changes which are connected to:
- Muscle tension
- Upset stomach
The constant stress can manifest intestinal issues like:
- Abdominal cramps
Irritable bowel syndrome or other more severe conditions will develop as the discomfort increases.
3. Mental Health Concerns
Probably, the most noticeable side effect is the affect hearing loss has on your mental health. A 2014 study found that an increase in depression correlates to the loss of hearing in adults under the age of 70.
The depression is most likely accounted for by the fact that people who suffer from hearing loss have a tough time communicating with others, according to JAMA Otolaryngology Neck Surgery. The research indicates that for women between the ages of 18 to 69 the depression is more pronounced.
Through the years, the untreated hearing loss has been connected to many mental health problems such as:
- Lack of focus
- Social withdrawal
People stop trying if they can’t communicate effectively and that leads to depression and psychological stress.
4. Troubled Relationships
Hearing loss impacts more than just your physical and mental health. 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.
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 surveyed reported getting annoyed when someone who has hearing loss wasn’t listening to them
- Most women indicated that hearing loss was a significant concern when communicating with friends and family members.
- 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
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 disappear and that’s good news. Make an appointment with a hearing care specialist to find out what solution works best for you.