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 mentioned. Hearing loss has an effect on more than just your ability to hear and has risen sharply amongst every age group. There are alarming health effects for people who ignore it. These four by themselves make it worth having your hearing examined.
1. Mental Decline
Hearing is a sense that you may not link to other health troubles but there is a connection. Your cognitive function and brain health are the most significant example. Hearing decline is actually the cause of certain conditions which some people connect with aging.
The brain’s innate ability to adapt to sensory changes backfires when it comes to hearing. Sound is processed through the inner ear in a way the brain can understand if hearing is normal. 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’re not aware of 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 coming through the AC vent. Your brain interprets this as a sound you don’t need to know about, so you don’t even notice 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 loss of hearing. 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 increases 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 compelling, people with hearing loss that get treatment like hearings aids have been shown to enhance cognitive ability.
2. Stomach Issues
That seems like a stretch, but it’s not. The changes you experience because of hearing loss have been connected to side effects like:
- Muscle tension
- Upset stomach
The ongoing strain can cause intestinal problems like:
- Abdominal cramps
As the discomfort increases, you may end up with a more serious intestinal condition like Irritable Bowel Syndrome (IBS).
3. Mental Health Problems
The affect hearing loss has on your mental health is probably the most significant side effect. A 2014 study found that in adults below the age of 70, an increase in depression correlates to a decline in hearing.
The depression is likely accounted for by the fact that people who have hearing loss have a difficult time communicating with others, according to JAMA Otolaryngology Neck Surgery. 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:
- Social withdrawal
- Lack of focus
People who aren’t able to effectively communicate stop trying and that leads to depression and psychological anxiety.
4. Relationship Troubles
The adverse reactions of hearing loss invade more than your physical and mental health. People with poor hearing statistically 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 causes problems in personal relationships, too. A 2007 survey found 35 percent of the respondents with hearing loss had trouble maintaining relationships. The survey showed:
- Most women indicated relationships with family members and friends were a significant concern with the hearing loss
- 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 getting frustrated when somebody with hearing loss wasn’t listening to them
Hearing loss has an effect on your relationships as well as your health and how you feel about yourself. The good news is many of these side effects go away or lesson when you get help such as hearing aids. Make an appointment with a hearing care specialist to learn what solution works best for you.