Picture hearing loss and the majority of people imagine an older person with an out-dated hearing aid saying, “What’s that sonny”? The fact is, hearing loss has escalated sharply amongst all age groups and it affects more than just your ability to hear. There are surprising health repercussions for people who neglect it. Based solely on these four, it’s worth having your hearing checked.
1. Cognitive Decline
Though you might not have previously known it, hearing loss can impact your overall health. Your cognitive function and brain health are the most serious example. Some conditions generally connected to aging are actually caused by hearing loss.
The brain has an extraordinary ability to adapt to sensory changes, but that backfires when it comes to hearing loss. For somebody with normal hearing, a sound is processed through the inner ear in a way that the brain can understand. The difference between the music playing on 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 don’t notice it, the brain experiences sound every microsecond. If you are sitting in a quiet room, there is still ambient noise around you, like the hiss of air blowing through the AC vent. Your brain interprets this as a sound you don’t need to hear, so you don’t even notice it.
The brain comes to expect this stimulus. When there is hearing loss, 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 as the absence of stimuli results in cognitive decline due to increased stress on the brain. Studies have shown that memory loss and cognitive decline is around 40 percent higher in seniors with hearing loss. Even more compelling is the fact that people have been shown to improve their cognitive functions if they suffer from hearing loss and get hearing aids.
2. Gut Issues
That’s not as far-fetched as it seems. Side effects related to changes you experience because of hearing loss are:
- Upset stomach
- Muscle tension
The ongoing stress can cause intestinal issues like:
- Abdominal cramps
As the discomfort increases, you might find yourself with a more serious intestinal condition like Irritable Bowel Syndrome (IBS).
3. Mental Health Problems
The most obvious side effect is probably the affect hearing loss has on your mental health. A 2014 study found that a loss in hearing correlates to an increase in depression in adults below the age of 70.
Research published in the JAMA Otolaryngology Neck Surgery found people who have untreated hearing loss have a hard time communicating with others and that most likely is the reason for the depression. The research indicates that depression is more prominent in women between the ages of 18 to 69.
Over the years, many mental health conditions have been linked to untreated hearing loss such as:
- Lack of focus
- Social withdrawal
People stop trying if they can’t communicate effectively and that leads to depression and psychological stress.
4. Troubled Relationships
Your physical and mental health are not the only things that are impacted by hearing loss. Statistically, people make less money if they have hearing loss. 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 brings about 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-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 questioned reported getting annoyed when someone with 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 has an effect on your relationships as well as your health and how you feel about yourself. 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 will work best for you.