An elderly person with an old-fashioned 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 increased dramatically among all age groups and it has an effect on more than just your ability to hear. There are alarming health effects for people who ignore it. These four by themselves make it worth having your hearing tested.
1. Mental Decline
Hearing is a sense that you might not link to other health troubles but there is an association. Your cognitive function and brain health are the most significant example. Some conditions frequently associated with aging are actually caused by hearing loss.
When it comes to hearing loss, the brain’s innate ability to adjust to sensory changes backfires. 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 allows you to recognize the difference between the music coming from your car radio and the music the ice cream truck plays as it heads down your street.
The brain encounters sound each microsecond whether you think you are hearing something or not. Air hissing in through a vent and other ambient sounds are all around you even if you are relaxing in a quiet room. You don’t notice it because your brain filters it out.
The brain comes to count on this stimulus. 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 absence of stimuli causes the brain to stress bringing about cognitive decline and a greater risk of dementia. Memory loss and cognitive decline are forty percent more common in seniors with hearing loss, according to studies. Even more persuasive is the fact that people have been shown to increase their cognitive ability if they have hearing loss and invest in hearing aids.
2. Gut Problems
That seems like a stretch, but it’s not. Side effects connected 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 severe conditions will develop as the discomfort increases.
3. Mental Health Concerns
The impact hearing loss has on your mental health is probably the most significant side effect. A 2014 study found that in adults under the age of 70, an increase in depression correlates to a decline in hearing.
Research published in the JAMA Otolaryngology Neck Surgery found people who have untreated hearing loss find it difficult communicating with others and that likely is the reason for the depression. The research shows that for women between the ages of 18 to 69 the depression is more pronounced.
Over the years, many mental health conditions have been connected to neglected hearing loss such as:
- Lack of focus
- Social withdrawal
People stop trying if they can’t communicate successfully and that leads to sadness and psychological stress.
4. Troubled Relationships
The side effects of hearing loss invade more than your physical and mental health. 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.
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:
- 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
- Thirty-seven percent of women questioned reported getting frustrated when someone with hearing loss wasn’t listening to them
- Forty-three percent of men indicated that hearing loss caused relationship problems
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 disappear and that’s good news. Make an appointment with a hearing care specialist to find out what solution works best for you.