Man suffering from hearing loss considering the side effects of losing his hearing.

An older person with an out-dated hearing aid saying “what’s that sonny”, is what many people think of when hearing loss is mentioned. Hearing loss impacts more than just your ability to hear and has escalated dramatically amongst every age group. If it goes untreated it can cause alarming consequences. It’s worth getting your hearing tested based solely on these four.

1. Cognitive Decline

There is a connection between hearing loss and other health issues, although you may not have previously been aware of them. The most significant is the impact hearing loss has on your cognitive functions and brain health. There is evidence that some conditions people connect with aging, such as memory loss, may really be caused by hearing decline.

The brain’s innate 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 goes down your street.

The brain encounters 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. When there is hearing loss, all of a sudden it doesn’t get the same quantity or quality of sound. It still thinks it’s there, though and struggles to hear it. The fatigue on the brain and lack of stimuli can cause cognitive decline that raises your risk 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 increase their cognitive ability if they suffer from hearing loss and invest in hearing aids.

2. Stomach Issues

That seems like a stretch, but it’s not. Hearing loss leads to changes which are connected to:

  • Upset stomach
  • Muscle tension
  • Anxiety

The constant strain can cause intestinal issues like:

  • Constipation
  • Abdominal cramps
  • Diarrhea

Irritable bowel syndrome or other more serious 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 in adults under the age of 70, an increase in depression correlates to a loss of hearing.

The depression is likely accounted for by the fact that people with hearing loss have a tough time communicating with others, according to JAMA Otolaryngology Neck Surgery. The research shows that for women between the ages of 18 to 69 the depression is more prominent.

Through the years, the neglected hearing loss has been linked to many mental health problems including:

  • Social withdrawal
  • Lack of focus
  • Anger
  • Irritability
  • Negativism

People who aren’t able to effectively communicate stop trying and that results in depression and psychological strain.

4. Troubled Relationships

Your physical and mental health are not the only things that are impacted by hearing loss. 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.

Hearing loss brings about problems in personal relationships, too. A 2007 survey found 35 percent of the respondents with hearing loss had trouble maintaining relationships. The survey showed:

  • Thirty-seven percent of women questioned reported being annoyed when somebody who has hearing loss wasn’t listening to them
  • Most women indicated relationships with family members and friends were a significant concern with the hearing loss
  • 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.

Hearing loss has an effect on your relationships as well as your health and your self-esteem. When you get hearing aids many of these side effects disappear and that’s good news. Make an appointment with a hearing care specialist to find out what option works best for you.

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