4 Unexpected Side Effects of Hearing Loss
Visualize hearing loss and many people picture an elderly person with an out-dated hearing aid saying, “What’s that sonny”? Having an effect on more than just your ability to hear, hearing loss has risen dramatically among all age groups. If it goes untreated it can cause startling effects. It’s worth having your hearing tested based solely on these four.
1. Mental Decline
There is an association between hearing loss and other health issues, although you might not have previously been aware of them. Your cognitive function and brain health are the most serious example. Some conditions commonly associated with aging are in fact caused by hearing loss.
The brain’s inherent ability to adapt to sensory changes backfires when it comes to hearing. Sound is processed through the inner ear in a way the brain can understand if hearing is normal. This mechanism enables you to know the difference between the music coming from your car stereo and the music the ice cream truck plays when it goes down your street.
Even if you don’t notice it, the brain experiences sound every microsecond. If you are resting in a quiet room, there is still ambient noise around you, like the hiss of air blowing into the AC vent. Your brain filters it out because it decides you don’t need to hear 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 loss of hearing. It strains to find the missing sound thinking it should still be present. The absence of stimuli causes the brain to stress leading to cognitive decline and a higher risk of dementia. Studies show that memory loss and cognitive decline is around 40 percent greater in seniors who suffer from hearing loss. Even more compelling is the fact that people have been shown to improve their cognitive ability if they have hearing loss and get hearing aids.
2. Gut Problems
That’s not as much of a stretch as it seems. The changes you experience because of hearing loss have been related to side effects like:
- Upset stomach
- Muscle tension
The continuous strain can manifest intestinal problems like:
- Abdominal cramps
As the discomfort increases, you may find yourself with a more severe intestinal condition like Irritable Bowel Syndrome (IBS).
3. Mental Health Concerns
The most noticeable side effect is probably the affect hearing loss has on your mental health. A 2014 study found that a decline in hearing correlates to a rise in depression in adults under the age of 70.
The study published in the JAMA Otolaryngology Neck Surgery revealed that people who suffer from untreated hearing loss find it difficult communicating with others and that most likely accounts for the depression. The research indicates that depression is more prominent in women between the ages of 18 to 69.
Over the years, many mental health conditions have been linked to untreated hearing loss such as:
- Social withdrawal
- Lack of focus
People stop trying if they can’t communicate successfully and that causes sadness and psychological strain.
4. Relationship Troubles
The adverse reactions of hearing loss impacts more than your physical and mental health. People with poor hearing statistically 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 creates problems in personal relationships, as well. A 2007 survey found 35 percent of the respondents had a hard time maintaining relationships if they suffered from hearing loss. The survey showed:
- Thirty-seven percent of women questioned reported being annoyed when somebody who has hearing loss wasn’t listening to them
- 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 hearing loss caused relationship problems
- Most women indicated relationships with family members and friends were a significant concern with the hearing loss
Hearing loss impacts your health, your self-esteem, and your relationships. The good news is many of these side effects go away or lesson when you get help like hearing aids. Schedule a hearing test to find out what course of action will work best for you.