Visualize hearing loss and the majority of people imagine an older person with an old-fashioned hearing aid saying, “What’s that sonny”? Having an effect on more than just your ability to hear, hearing loss has increased sharply among all age groups. Surprising consequences result from failing to get it taken care of. These four alone make it worth having your hearing checked.
1. Cognitive Decline
There is an association between hearing loss and other health issues, even though you might not have previously been aware of them. 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.
When it comes to hearing loss, the brain’s inherent ability to adjust to sensory changes backfires. For somebody with regular hearing, a sound is processed through the inner ear in a way that the brain can understand. 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.
The brain experiences sound each microsecond whether you think you are hearing something or not. If you are relaxing in a quiet room, there is still ambient noise around you, like the hiss of air coming into the AC vent. Your brain interprets this as a sound you don’t need to hear, so you don’t notice it.
This stimulus is something the brain comes to expect. All of a sudden, when there is hearing loss, the brain doesn’t get the same quality or quantity of sound. It struggles to hear the missing sound thinking it should still be there. The fatigue on the brain and lack of stimuli can bring about cognitive decline that increases your chances of dementia later in your life. Memory loss and cognitive decline are forty percent more common in seniors with hearing loss, according to studies. Even more compelling is the fact that people have been shown to improve their cognitive functions if they have hearing loss and get hearing aids.
2. Stomach Trouble
That’s not as far-fetched as it seems. Hearing loss leads to changes which are related to:
- Upset stomach
- Muscle tension
The continuous stress can manifest intestinal problems like:
- Abdominal cramps
As the discomfort increases, you could end up with a more serious intestinal condition like Irritable Bowel Syndrome (IBS).
3. Mental Health Concerns
The impact hearing loss has on your mental health is probably the most significant side effect. A 2014 study found that a decline in hearing correlates to an increase in depression in adults below the age of 70.
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 depression is more prominent in women between the ages of 18 to 69.
Over the years, the neglected hearing loss has been connected to many mental health conditions such as:
- Social withdrawal
- Lack of focus
People who aren’t able to successfully communicate stop trying and that leads to depression and psychological strain.
4. Relationship Troubles
Hearing loss impacts more than just 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.
Personal relationships also suffer because of hearing loss. A 2007 survey found 35 percent of the respondents had a hard time maintaining relationships if they suffered from hearing loss. The survey showed:
- Most women indicated that hearing loss was a significant concern when communicating with friends and family members.
- 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 they had trouble with relationships due to their hearing loss
- Thirty-seven percent of women interviewed reported getting annoyed when somebody with hearing loss wasn’t listening to them
Hearing loss impacts your health, your self-esteem, and your relationships. When you get hearing aids many of these side effects disappear and that’s good news. Schedule an appointment with a hearing specialist to find out what course of action is best for you.