You May be Shocked 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 out-dated hearing aid saying “what’s that sonny”, is what many people think about when hearing loss is discussed. Impacting more than just your ability to hear, hearing loss has increased sharply amongst all age groups. If it is left untreated it can cause alarming repercussions. These four by themselves make it worth having your hearing examined.

1. Cognitive Decline

Although you may not have previously known it, hearing loss can influence your overall health. Your cognitive function and brain health are the most significant example. There is evidence that some conditions people connect with aging, like memory loss, may actually be caused by hearing decline.

The brain has an impressive ability to adapt to sensory changes, but that backfires when it comes to hearing loss. For someone with regular hearing, a sound is processed through the inner ear in a way that the brain can understand. This mechanism allows you to know the difference between the music coming from your car stereo and the music the ice cream truck plays as it heads down your street.

The brain encounters sound every microsecond whether you think you are hearing something or not. If you are sitting in a quiet room, there is still background noise around you, like the hiss of air coming through the AC vent. Your brain filters it out because it decides you don’t need to hear it.

The brain comes to count on this stimulus. The brain doesn’t get the same quality or quantity of sound when there is hearing loss. Thinking the missing sound should still be there, it strains to find it. The fatigue on the brain and absence of stimuli can bring about cognitive decline that raises your risk of dementia later in your life. Studies show that memory loss and cognitive decline is around 40 percent higher in seniors with hearing loss. Even more compelling, people who suffer from hearing loss that get treatment such as hearings aids have been shown to enhance cognitive function.

2. Stomach Trouble

That seems like a stretch, but it’s not. The changes you experience due to hearing loss have been associated with side effects like:

  • Upset stomach
  • Anxiety
  • Muscle tension

The ongoing strain can cause intestinal problems like:

  • Diarrhea
  • Abdominal cramps
  • Constipation

As the discomfort increases, you might find yourself with a more severe intestinal condition like Irritable Bowel Syndrome (IBS).

3. Mental Health Concerns

Probably, the most noticeable side effect is the affect 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 decline in hearing.

Research published in the JAMA Otolaryngology Neck Surgery found people with untreated hearing loss find it difficult communicating with others and that likely accounts for the depression. The research suggests that for women between the ages of 18 to 69 the depression is more pronounced.

Over the years, the neglected hearing loss has been connected to many mental health conditions such as:

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

Psychological strain and depression are the outcome when someone can’t communicate successfully and stops trying.

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 causes 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:

  • Forty-three percent of men indicated that they had trouble with relationships due to their hearing loss
  • Thirty-five percent of men Had to be pressured into getting treatment by their partner or spouse before they would agree to it.
  • Most women indicated relationships with family members and friends were a significant concern with the hearing loss
  • Thirty-seven percent of women questioned reported being annoyed when somebody with hearing loss wasn’t listening to them

Hearing loss affects your health, your self-esteem, as well as 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 solution works best for you.

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