Imagine hearing loss and most people imagine an older person with an out-dated hearing aid saying, “What’s that sonny”? The fact is, hearing loss has escalated sharply among all age groups and it affects more than just your ability to hear. There are surprising health consequences for people who ignore it. It’s worth getting your hearing checked based solely on these four.
1. Cognitive Decline
While you might not have previously known it, hearing loss can influence your overall health. 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 associate with aging.
When it comes to hearing loss, the brain’s inherent ability to adjust to sensory changes backfires. 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 sorted out by this mechanism.
Even if you’re not aware of it, the brain encounters sound every microsecond. Air hissing in through a vent and other background sounds are all around you even if you are resting in a quiet room. 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 count on. When there is loss of hearing, all of a sudden it doesn’t get the same quantity or quality of sound. It still expects it to be there, though and struggles to hear it. The lack of stimuli causes the brain to stress leading to 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. 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 Trouble
That seems like it might seem far-fetched, but it’s not. Side effects related to changes you experience because of hearing loss are:
- Upset stomach
- Muscle tension
The constant strain can manifest intestinal issues like:
- Abdominal cramps
As the discomfort increases, you might find yourself with a more severe intestinal condition like Irritable Bowel Syndrome (IBS).
3. Mental Health Problems
More than likely, the most noticeable side effect is the affect hearing loss has on your mental health. A 2014 study found that a loss in hearing correlates to a rise in depression in adults under the age of 70.
Research published in the JAMA Otolaryngology Neck Surgery revealed that people with untreated hearing loss find it difficult communicating with others and that likely is the reason for the depression. The research shows that for women between the ages of 18 to 69 the depression is more pronounced.
Through the years, the neglected hearing loss has been linked to many mental health conditions such as:
- Social withdrawal
- Lack of focus
People stop trying if they can’t communicate effectively and that leads to sadness and psychological strain.
4. Troubled Relationships
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 20,000 dollars per year less is made by individuals with hearing loss in comparison to their hearing colleagues.
Personal relationships also suffer because of hearing loss. A 2007 survey found 35 percent of the respondents with hearing loss had trouble maintaining relationships. The survey showed:
- Thirty-seven percent of women interviewed reported being frustrated when someone who has hearing loss wasn’t listening to them
- Most women indicated relationships with family members and friends were a significant concern with the 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.
- Forty-three percent of men indicated that hearing loss caused relationship problems
Hearing loss impacts your health, your self-esteem, as well as your relationships. What’s promising 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 find out what solution works best for you.