You May be Surprised by These 4 Side Effects of Hearing Loss

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

An older person with an old-fashioned hearing aid saying “what’s that sonny”, is what many people think of when hearing loss is talked about. Impacting more than just your ability to hear, hearing loss has escalated dramatically amongst all age groups. Surprising consequences result from not getting it treated. It’s worth getting your hearing tested based only on these four.

1. Mental Decline

There is a connection between hearing loss and other health issues, even though you may not have previously been aware of them. Brain health and cognitive function are the most serious examples. Some conditions commonly connected to aging are really caused by hearing loss.

The brain’s natural 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. 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 sorted out by this mechanism.

The brain encounters sound each microsecond whether you think you are hearing something or not. If you are resting in a quiet room, there is still ambient noise around you, like the hiss of air blowing through the AC vent. Your brain interprets this as a sound you don’t need to know about, so you don’t even notice it.

This stimulus is something the brain comes to expect. The brain doesn’t get the same quality or quantity of sound when there is loss of hearing. Believing the missing sound should still be there, it strains to find it. The fatigue on the brain and absence of stimuli can result in cognitive decline that increases your risk of dementia later in life. Memory loss and cognitive decline are forty percent more common in seniors with hearing loss, according to studies. Even more compelling, people who suffer from hearing loss that get treatment like hearings aids have been shown to improve cognitive function.

2. Gut Issues

That seems like it might seem far-fetched, but it’s not. Side effects related to changes you experience due to hearing loss are:

  • Upset stomach
  • Muscle tension
  • Anxiety

The continuous strain can cause intestinal problems like:

  • Constipation
  • Diarrhea
  • Abdominal cramps

Irritable bowel syndrome or other more severe conditions will develop as the discomfort increases.

3. Mental Health Concerns

The most obvious side effect is probably the affect hearing loss has on your mental health. A 2014 study found that in adults below the age of 70, an increase in depression correlates to a loss of hearing.

Research published in the JAMA Otolaryngology Neck Surgery revealed that people who suffer from untreated hearing loss find it difficult communicating with others and that probably accounts for the depression. The research indicates that depression is more prominent in women between the ages of 18 to 69.

Through the years, the untreated hearing loss has been connected to many mental health problems including:

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

Psychological anxiety and sadness are the outcome when someone can’t communicate effectively and stops trying.

4. Troubled Relationships

The negative effects of hearing loss invade more than 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 individuals with untreated hearing loss make on average 20,000 dollars less a year than 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:

  • Thirty-seven percent of women questioned reported getting frustrated when someone who has hearing loss wasn’t listening to them
  • Forty-three percent of men indicated that they had trouble with relationships due to their hearing loss
  • 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.

Hearing loss affects your health, your self-esteem, and your relationships. When you get hearing aids quite a few of these side effects go away and that’s good news. Make an appointment with a hearing care specialist to learn what option works best for you.

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