Visualize hearing loss and the majority of people imagine an older person with an old-fashioned hearing aid saying, “What’s that sonny”? The fact is, hearing loss has risen dramatically among all age groups and it impacts more than just your ability to hear. There are alarming health consequences for people who ignore it. These four alone make it worth having your hearing tested.
1. Cognitive Decline
Hearing is a sense that you might not link to other health problems but there is a connection. Your cognitive function and brain health are the most serious example. Some conditions commonly associated with aging are actually caused by hearing loss.
The brain’s inherent ability to adjust to sensory changes backfires when it comes to hearing. For a person with normal hearing, a sound is processed through the inner ear in a way that the brain can understand. This mechanism enables you to know the difference between the music playing on your car stereo and the music the ice cream truck plays as it drives down your street.
The brain experiences sound every microsecond whether you think you are hearing something or not. 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 hear, so you don’t notice it.
This stimulus is something the brain comes to expect. All of a sudden, when there is loss of hearing, the brain doesn’t get the same quality or quantity of sound. It struggles to find the missing sound thinking it should still be present. The stress on the brain and lack of stimuli can bring about cognitive decline that increases your risk of dementia later on in your life. Studies show that memory loss and cognitive decline is about 40 percent greater in seniors who suffer from hearing loss. People have been shown, even more compellingly, to improve their cognitive functions if they have hearing loss and they get hearing aids.
2. Stomach Problems
That’s not as far-fetched as it seems. The changes you experience due to hearing loss have been associated with side effects like:
- Upset stomach
- Muscle tension
The ongoing stress can manifest intestinal issues like:
- Abdominal cramps
As the discomfort increases, you might find yourself with a more serious intestinal condition like Irritable Bowel Syndrome (IBS).
3. Mental Health Concerns
More than likely, the most apparent side effect is the impact hearing loss has on your mental health. 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 tough time communicating with others, according to JAMA Otolaryngology Neck Surgery. The research shows that depression is more prominent in women between the ages of 18 to 69.
Over the years, the untreated hearing loss has been linked to many mental health conditions such as:
- Social withdrawal
- Lack of focus
Psychological anxiety and depression are the result when someone can’t communicate successfully and stops trying.
4. Relationship Troubles
The negative effects of hearing loss invade more than your physical and mental health. 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 causes 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:
- Most women indicated that hearing loss was a significant concern when communicating with friends and family members.
- Forty-three percent of men indicated that hearing loss caused relationship problems
- 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 surveyed reported being irritated 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. What’s promising is many of these side effects disappear or lesson when you get help like hearing aids. Schedule a hearing test to find out what course of action is best for you.