Imagine hearing loss. Most people picture an elderly person wearing an old-fashioned hearing instrument saying, “What’s the sonny?” This is because hearing loss has increased in all age groups. It affects more than your ability to hear. People who ignore hearing loss can suffer horrendous health consequences. These are just four reasons to have your hearing checked.
1. Mental decline
Although the hearing is not something you associate with other health issues, there is a connection. Worst of all is the effect hearing loss can have on your brain and cognitive function. Evidence suggests that hearing loss can lead to memory loss and other conditions associated with aging.
Although the brain is able to adapt to sensory changes in a remarkable way, this can backfire when it comes to hearing impairment. Normal hearing means that a sound is processed by the inner ear so that the brain can comprehend it. This mechanism of hearing allows you to distinguish between music from your car’s radio and the music played by the ice cream truck as it drives down your street.
The brain experiences sound every microsecond, regardless of whether it thinks you are hearing something. Even though you’re in a quiet space, you can still hear the ambient noises like the sound of the AC vent blowing. This sound is not something you need to hear, so your brain doesn’t notice it.
This stimulus is what the brain expects. Hearing loss can cause the brain to lose its ability to hear as well as quality. However, it still believes it is there and struggles to find it. Cognitive decline can be caused by stress on the brain and lack of stimulation. This increases your chance of developing dementia later in life. Research shows that cognitive decline and memory loss are around 40% higher in seniors who have lost their hearing. It is even more convincing that people with hearing loss receive treatment such as hearing aids to improve their cognitive function.
2. Gut Problems
This may seem like a lot, but it is not. Side effects of hearing loss include:
- Muscle tension
- Get up stomach
Intestinal problems can result from constant stress, such as:
- Abdominal cramps
You may develop Irritable Bowel Syndrome (IBS) if your discomfort continues to increase.
3. Mental Health Problems
The most noticeable side effect of hearing loss is its impact on your mental health. A 2022 study showed that people under 70 years old are more likely to experience depression if their hearing is reduced.
A study published in JAMA Otolaryngology and Neck Surgery revealed that people with untreated hearing loss have difficulty communicating with others, which is likely to be the cause of depression. Research shows that depression is more common in women aged 18-69.
Untreated hearing loss has been linked to many mental health issues over the years.
- Social withdrawal
- Focus is lacking
People who are unable to communicate effectively stop trying, which can lead to depression and psychological stress.
4. Troubled Relationships
Side effects of hearing loss can affect more than your mental and physical health. Statistics show that people with poor hearing make less money. The Better Hearing Institute conducted a 2007 study and found that people with untreated hearing loss earn on average 20,000 less per year than their hearing peers.
Personal relationships can also be affected by hearing loss. A 2007 survey showed that 35 percent of respondents with hearing loss had difficulty maintaining relationships. It was revealed that:
- Three-quarters of five percent of men said they consented to treatment for their hearing loss because their partner or spouse pressured them.
- 43% of men said that hearing loss causes problems in their relationships
- Many women stated that relationships with friends and family were important concerns due to hearing loss.
- 37% of the women who were surveyed said they get annoyed when someone with hearing impairment doesn’t listen to them.
Your health, your perceptions of the world, and your relationships with others can all be affected by hearing loss. Many of these side effects can be eliminated or reduced with the help of hearing aids. Have you ever had your hearing tested?