Most people picture an elderly person saying “what’s that sonny” when they picture hearing loss. 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 ignore it. Based only on these four, it’s worth having your hearing checked.
1. Cognitive Decline
Although you might not have previously known it, hearing loss can influence your general health. The most significant is the impact hearing loss has on your cognitive functions and brain health. There is evidence that some conditions people connect with aging, such as memory loss, may actually be caused by hearing decline.
When it comes to hearing loss, the brain’s natural ability to adjust to sensory changes backfires. The brain can understand sound that is processed through the inner ear when hearing is normal. This mechanism permits you to tell the difference between the music playing on your car stereo and the music the ice cream truck plays as it drives down your street.
Each microsecond, the brain experiences sound even if you’re not aware of it. Air hissing in through a vent and other background sounds are around you even if you are relaxing in a quiet room. Your brain interprets this as a sound you don’t need to know about, so you don’t notice it.
This stimulus is something the brain comes to expect. When there is hearing loss, suddenly it doesn’t get the same quantity or quality of sound. Thinking the missing sound should still be there, it struggles to find it. Your risk of dementia is increased because the absence of stimuli leads to cognitive decline due to increased stress on the brain. Memory loss and cognitive decline are forty percent more common in seniors with hearing loss, according to studies. People have been shown, even more compellingly, to improve their cognitive ability if they have hearing loss and they invest in hearing aids.
2. Stomach Trouble
That’s not as much of a stretch as it seems. The changes you experience because of hearing loss have been connected to side effects like:
- Muscle tension
- Upset stomach
The constant stress can cause intestinal problems like:
- Abdominal cramps
As the discomfort increases, you may end up with a more serious intestinal condition like Irritable Bowel Syndrome (IBS).
3. Mental Health Concerns
The impact hearing loss has on your mental health is more than likely the most obvious side effect. A 2014 study found that a decline in hearing correlates to an increase in depression in adults below the age of 70.
People who suffer from hearing loss have a tough time communicating with others, according to JAMA Otolaryngology Neck Surgery, and that most likely accounts for the depression. The research shows that for women between the ages of 18 to 69 the depression is more pronounced.
Over the years, the neglected hearing loss has been linked to many mental health problems like:
- Lack of focus
- Social withdrawal
Psychological stress and sadness are the outcome when a person can’t communicate effectively and stops trying.
4. Troubled Relationships
The adverse reactions of hearing loss impact more than 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.
Hearing loss causes 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 surveyed reported being annoyed 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 quite a few of these side effects go away and that’s good news. Make an appointment with a hearing care specialist to find out what option works best for you.