An older person with an out-dated hearing aid saying “what’s that sonny”, is what the majority of people think about when hearing loss is talked about. The fact is, hearing loss has gone up dramatically among 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. These four by themselves make it worth having your hearing tested.
1. Mental Decline
While you may not have previously known it, hearing loss can impact your general health. The most serious is the impact hearing loss has on your cognitive functions and brain health. Hearing decline is actually the cause of certain conditions which some people connect with aging.
The brain’s innate ability to adapt to sensory changes backfires when it comes to hearing. The brain can understand sound that is processed through the inner ear when hearing is normal. The difference between the music coming from your car radio and the music the ice cream truck plays as it heads down the street is processed by this mechanism.
The brain encounters sound each microsecond whether you think you are hearing something or not. If you are sitting in a quiet room, there is still ambient noise around you, like the hiss of air coming through the AC vent. You don’t even notice it because your brain filters it out.
This stimulus is something the brain comes to expect. When there is loss of hearing, all of a sudden it doesn’t get the same quantity or quality of sound. Believing the missing sound should still be there, it strains to find it. Your risk of dementia is increased because the absence of stimuli causes cognitive decline as a result of increased stress on the brain. Memory loss and cognitive decline are forty percent more common in seniors with hearing loss, according to studies. Even more persuasive, people who suffer from hearing loss that get treatment like hearings aids have been shown to enhance cognitive ability.
2. Stomach Trouble
That seems like a stretch, but it’s not. Side effects connected to changes you experience because of hearing loss are:
- Upset stomach
- Muscle tension
The continuous stress can cause intestinal issues like:
- Abdominal cramps
Irritable bowel syndrome or other more severe conditions will develop as the discomfort increases.
3. Mental Health Problems
The affect hearing loss has on your mental health is more than likely the most significant side effect. A 2014 study found that an increase in depression correlates to the loss of hearing in adults below the age of 70.
People with hearing loss have a hard time communicating with others, according to JAMA Otolaryngology Neck Surgery, and that most likely accounts for the depression. The research suggests that depression is more pronounced in women between the ages of 18 to 69.
Through the years, the neglected hearing loss has been linked to many mental health conditions like:
- Lack of focus
- Social withdrawal
People stop trying if they can’t communicate successfully and that leads to sadness and psychological strain.
4. Relationship Troubles
Your physical and mental health are not the only things that are impacted by hearing loss. 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.
Hearing loss creates problems in personal relationships, as well. A 2007 survey found 35 percent of the respondents with hearing loss had trouble maintaining relationships. The survey showed:
- Thirty-five percent of men Had to be pressured into getting treatment by their partner or spouse before they would agree to it.
- Forty-three percent of men indicated that hearing loss caused relationship problems
- Thirty-seven percent of women interviewed reported being irritated 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.
Hearing loss impacts your health, your self-esteem, and 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 learn what solution works best for you.