An older person with an out-dated hearing aid saying “what’s that sonny”, is what the majority of people think of when hearing loss is mentioned. The fact is, hearing loss has escalated sharply amongst all age groups and it affects more than just your ability to hear. If it is not treated it can cause alarming effects. These four alone make it worth having your hearing tested.
1. Mental Decline
There is a connection between hearing loss and other health issues, though you may not have previously been aware of them. 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 has an impressive ability to adapt to sensory changes, but that backfires when it comes to hearing loss. Sound is processed through the inner ear in a way the brain can understand if 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.
Even if you’re not aware of it, the brain experiences sound every microsecond. If you are resting in a quiet room, there is still ambient noise around you, like the hiss of air coming through the AC vent. Your brain interprets this as a sound you don’t need to hear, so you don’t notice it.
This stimulus is something the brain comes to expect. All of a sudden, when there is loss of hearing, the brain doesn’t get the same quality or quantity of sound. Thinking the missing sound should still be there, it strains to find it. The fatigue on the brain and absence of stimuli can result in cognitive decline that raises your risk of dementia later in life. 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 improve their cognitive functions if they have hearing loss and get hearing aids.
2. Gut Issues
That’s not as much of a stretch as it seems. Side effects connected to changes you experience because of hearing loss are:
- Muscle tension
- Upset stomach
The continuous strain can manifest intestinal problems like:
- Abdominal cramps
As the discomfort increases, you may find yourself 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 probably the most noticeable side effect. A 2014 study found that a decline in hearing correlates to a rise in depression 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 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 conditions including:
- Lack of focus
- Social withdrawal
Psychological anxiety and sadness are the result when a person can’t communicate successfully and stops trying.
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, 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:
- Most women indicated relationships with family members and friends were a significant concern with the hearing loss
- Thirty-seven percent of women questioned reported being frustrated when someone with hearing loss wasn’t listening to them
- Forty-three percent of men indicated that hearing loss caused relationship problems
- Thirty-five percent of men Had to be pressured into getting treatment by their partner or spouse before they would agree to it.
Hearing loss has an effect on your relationships as well as your health and how you feel about yourself. What’s promising is many of these side effects go away or lesson when you get help such as hearing aids. Schedule a hearing test to find out what course of action is best for you.