An older person with an old-fashioned hearing aid saying “what’s that sonny”, is what most people think of when hearing loss is discussed. The fact is, hearing loss has increased sharply amongst all age groups and it impacts more than just your ability to hear. There are alarming health effects for people who ignore it. Based solely on these four, it’s worth having your hearing tested.
1. Cognitive 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. There is evidence that some conditions people associate with aging, such as memory loss, may actually be caused by hearing decline.
The brain’s natural 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. It’s that mechanism of hearing that enables you to recognize the difference between the music coming from your car radio and the music the ice cream truck plays as it heads down your street.
Even if you don’t notice it, the brain experiences sound every microsecond. There is still background sound around you even if you are sitting in a quiet room, such as air hissing in through a vent. Your brain interprets this as a sound you don’t need to hear, so you don’t notice it.
The brain comes to count on this stimulus. The brain doesn’t get the same quality or quantity of sound when there is loss of hearing. It still thinks it’s there, though and struggles to hear it. The stress on the brain and lack of stimuli can cause cognitive decline that increases your risk of dementia later in life. Seniors have a forty percent higher rate of memory loss and cognitive decline if they suffer from hearing loss, according to studies. People have been shown, even more compellingly, to increase their cognitive ability if they have hearing loss and they invest in hearing aids.
2. Stomach Trouble
That seems like a stretch, but it’s not. Hearing loss leads to changes which are related to:
- Upset stomach
- Muscle tension
The constant stress can cause intestinal problems like:
- Abdominal cramps
Irritable bowel syndrome or other more serious conditions will develop as the discomfort increases.
3. Mental Health Concerns
Probably, the most noticeable side effect is the impact hearing loss has on your mental health. A 2014 study found that a decline in hearing correlates to a rise in depression in adults under the age of 70.
The depression is most likely accounted for by the fact that people who have hearing loss have a hard 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 pronounced.
Over the years, many mental health conditions have been linked to untreated hearing loss such as:
- Lack of focus
- Social withdrawal
Psychological anxiety and depression are the outcome when someone can’t communicate effectively 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 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-seven percent of women questioned reported getting irritated 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.
- Thirty-five percent of men reported they agreed to treatment for hearing loss because their spouse or partner pressured them into it
- Forty-three percent of men indicated that hearing loss caused relationship problems
Your self-esteem and the state of your health are impacted by hearing loss. It also has an effect on your relationships. The good news is many of these side effects go away or lesson when you get help like hearing aids. Make an appointment with a hearing care specialist to learn what solution works best for you.