Visualize hearing loss and the majority of people picture an older person with an old-fashioned hearing aid saying, “What’s that sonny”? Hearing loss has an effect on more than just your ability to hear and has increased dramatically amongst all age groups. If it is not treated it can cause startling consequences. These four alone make it worth having your hearing examined.
1. Cognitive Decline
Though you might not have previously known it, hearing loss can affect your overall health. Your cognitive function and brain health are the most serious example. Hearing decline is the true cause of certain conditions which some people connect with aging.
The brain’s inherent ability to adjust 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. This mechanism enables you to know the difference between the music coming from your car stereo and the music the ice cream truck plays when it drives down your street.
Each microsecond, the brain experiences sound even if you’re not aware of it. If you are resting in a quiet room, there is still background noise around you, like the hiss of air blowing into the AC vent. You don’t even notice it because your brain filters it out.
The brain comes to expect this stimulus. The brain doesn’t get the same quality or quantity of sound when there is loss of hearing. It struggles to find the missing sound thinking it should still be present. The stress on the brain and lack of stimuli can cause cognitive decline that raises your chances of dementia later in life. Studies have shown that memory loss and cognitive decline is about 40 percent higher in seniors with hearing loss. People have been shown, even more compellingly, to improve their cognitive ability if they suffer from hearing loss and they get hearing aids.
2. Gut Trouble
That’s not as far-fetched as it seems. Hearing loss leads to changes which are related to:
- Muscle tension
- Upset stomach
The constant strain can manifest intestinal issues like:
- Abdominal cramps
As the discomfort increases, you might end up with a more serious intestinal condition like Irritable Bowel Syndrome (IBS).
3. Mental Health Problems
The most significant 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 under 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 suggests that for women between the ages of 18 to 69 the depression is more prominent.
Over the years, the untreated hearing loss has been connected to many mental health problems such as:
- Lack of focus
- Social withdrawal
People stop trying if they can’t communicate effectively and that causes depression and psychological strain.
4. Relationship Troubles
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:
- Forty-three percent of men indicated that they had trouble with relationships due to their hearing loss
- Thirty-five percent of men Had to be pressured into getting treatment by their partner or spouse before they would agree to it.
- Thirty-seven percent of women interviewed reported being frustrated when somebody 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.
Your self-esteem and the state of your health are affected by hearing loss. It also has an effect on your relationships. What’s promising is many of these side effects disappear or lesson when you get help such as hearing aids. Schedule an appointment with a hearing specialist to find out what course of action will work best for you.