Most people think of an older person saying “what’s that sonny” when they picture hearing loss. Impacting more than just your ability to hear, hearing loss has escalated sharply among all age groups. There are alarming health consequences for people who neglect it. 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 general health. Brain health and cognitive function are the most significant examples. Some conditions generally associated with aging are really caused by hearing loss.
When it comes to hearing loss, the brain’s inherent ability to adjust to sensory changes backfires. The brain can understand sound that is processed through the inner ear when 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.
The brain experiences sound every microsecond whether you think you are hearing something or not. 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 know about, so you don’t notice it.
This stimulus is something the brain comes to count on. The brain doesn’t get the same quality or quantity of sound when there is hearing loss. Thinking the missing sound should still be there, it struggles to find it. The stress on the brain and absence of stimuli can bring about cognitive decline that raises your chances of dementia later on in life. Seniors have a forty percent higher rate of memory loss and cognitive decline if they suffer from hearing loss, according to studies. Even more persuasive is the fact that people have been shown to increase their cognitive functions if they suffer from hearing loss and get hearing aids.
2. Gut Trouble
That’s not as far-fetched as it seems. The changes you experience because of hearing loss have been associated with side effects like:
- Upset stomach
- Muscle tension
The ongoing strain can cause intestinal issues like:
- Abdominal cramps
Irritable bowel syndrome or other more severe conditions will develop as the discomfort increases.
3. Mental Health Concerns
The most noticeable side effect is probably the impact 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.
People with hearing loss have a tough time communicating with others, according to JAMA Otolaryngology Neck Surgery, and that most likely accounts for the depression. The research suggests that depression is more pronounced in women between the ages of 18 to 69.
Over the years, many mental health problems have been connected to untreated hearing loss such as:
- Lack of focus
- Social withdrawal
People stop trying if they can’t communicate effectively and that leads to sadness and psychological strain.
4. Troubled Relationships
Hearing loss impacts more than just your physical and mental health. 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.
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:
- Forty-three percent of men indicated that hearing loss caused relationship problems
- Thirty-five percent of men reported they agreed to treatment for hearing loss because their spouse or partner pressured them into it
- Most women indicated that hearing loss was a significant concern when communicating with friends and family members.
- Thirty-seven percent of women interviewed reported getting irritated when somebody who has hearing loss wasn’t listening to them
Hearing loss has an effect on your relationships as well as your health and your self-esteem. When you get hearing aids quite a few of these side effects go away and that’s good news. Schedule an appointment with a hearing specialist to find out what course of action will work best for you.