An elderly person with an out-dated hearing aid saying “what’s that sonny”, is what the majority of people think of when hearing loss is discussed. Affecting more than just your ability to hear, hearing loss has increased sharply among all age groups. There are surprising health repercussions for people who ignore it. Based only on these four, it’s worth having your hearing examined.
1. Mental Decline
Though you might 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. Some conditions frequently connected to aging are in fact caused by hearing loss.
When it comes to hearing loss, the brain’s natural ability to adapt to sensory changes backfires. 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 experiences sound each microsecond whether you think you are hearing something or not. Air hissing in through a vent and other background sounds are all around you even if you are relaxing in a quiet room. Your brain filters it out because it decides you don’t need to hear it.
This stimulus is something the brain comes to expect. 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 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. People have been shown, even more compellingly, to increase their cognitive ability if they have hearing loss and they invest in hearing aids.
2. Gut Trouble
That’s not as much of a stretch as it seems. The changes you experience due to hearing loss have been connected to side effects like:
- Muscle tension
- Upset stomach
The constant stress can cause intestinal issues like:
- Abdominal cramps
Irritable bowel syndrome or other more serious conditions will develop as the discomfort increases.
3. Mental Health Concerns
The affect hearing loss has on your mental health is probably the most noticeable 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 who suffer from hearing loss have a tough time communicating with others, according to JAMA Otolaryngology Neck Surgery, and that probably accounts for the depression. The research suggests that for women between the ages of 18 to 69 the depression is more prominent.
Over the years, the neglected hearing loss has been linked to many mental health problems such as:
- Lack of focus
- Social withdrawal
People who can’t successfully communicate stop trying and that results in sadness and psychological anxiety.
4. Relationship Troubles
Hearing loss impacts more than just your physical and mental health. People with poor hearing statistically make less money. A 2007 study conducted by the Better Hearing Institute found 20,000 dollars per year less is made by individuals with hearing loss in comparison to their hearing colleagues.
Hearing loss creates problems in personal relationships, as well. A 2007 survey found 35 percent of the respondents had a hard time maintaining relationships if they suffered from hearing loss. The survey showed:
- Most women indicated that hearing loss was a significant concern when communicating with friends and family members.
- Forty-three percent of men indicated that hearing loss caused relationship problems
- Thirty-seven percent of women questioned reported getting annoyed when somebody with hearing loss wasn’t listening to them
- Thirty-five percent of men reported they agreed to treatment for hearing loss because their spouse or partner pressured them into it
Hearing loss affects your health, your self-esteem, and your relationships. When you get hearing aids many of these side effects go away and that’s good news. Schedule a hearing test to find out what course of action is best for you.