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

Imagine hearing loss and most people imagine an older person with an old-fashioned hearing aid saying, “What’s that sonny”? Hearing loss affects more than just your ability to hear and has escalated dramatically amongst all age groups. Startling repercussions result from failing to get it treated. Based solely on these four, it’s worth having your hearing checked.

1. Mental Decline

There is an association between hearing loss and other health problems, although you may not have previously been aware of them. Brain health and cognitive function are the most significant examples. Hearing decline is the true cause of certain conditions which some people connect with aging.

The brain’s inherent ability to adapt to sensory changes backfires when it comes to hearing. For a person with normal hearing, a sound is processed through the inner ear in a way that the brain can understand. It’s that mechanism of hearing that allows you to recognize the difference between the music coming from your car radio and the music the ice cream truck plays as it heads down your street.

Even if you don’t notice it, the brain experiences sound every microsecond. If you are sitting in a quiet room, there is still ambient noise around you, like the hiss of air coming 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 expect. Suddenly, when there is loss of hearing, the brain doesn’t get the same quality or quantity of sound. Believing the missing sound should still be there, it struggles to find it. The fatigue on the brain and absence of stimuli can cause cognitive decline that raises your chances of dementia later on in your life. Seniors have a forty percent higher rate of memory loss and cognitive decline if they suffer from hearing loss, according to studies. Even more persuasive is the fact that people have been shown to improve their cognitive functions if they suffer from hearing loss and get hearing aids.

2. Gut Issues

That’s not as much of a stretch as it seems. Side effects related to changes you experience because of hearing loss are:

  • Anxiety
  • Muscle tension
  • Upset stomach

The continuous stress can manifest intestinal problems like:

  • Diarrhea
  • Abdominal cramps
  • Constipation

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

3. Mental Health Problems

The impact hearing loss has on your mental health is more than likely the most noticeable side effect. A 2014 study found that a decline in hearing correlates to an increase in depression in adults below the age of 70.

People with hearing loss have a tough time communicating with others, according to JAMA Otolaryngology Neck Surgery, and that likely accounts for the depression. The research indicates that for women between the ages of 18 to 69 the depression is more prominent.

Over the years, many mental health problems have been connected to untreated hearing loss such as:

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

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

4. Troubled Relationships

The adverse reactions of hearing loss impacts more than your physical and mental health. Statistically, if a person has hearing loss, they will probably 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, too. A 2007 survey found 35 percent of the respondents with hearing loss had trouble maintaining relationships. The survey showed:

  • Thirty-five percent of men reported they agreed to treatment for hearing loss because their spouse or partner pressured them into it
  • Forty-three percent of men indicated that they had trouble with relationships due to their hearing loss
  • Most women indicated relationships with family members and friends were a significant concern with the hearing loss
  • Thirty-seven percent of women questioned reported getting frustrated when somebody who has hearing loss wasn’t listening to them

Hearing loss has an effect on your relationships as well as your health and how you feel about yourself. What’s promising is many of these side effects go away or lesson when you get help such as hearing aids. Make an appointment with a hearing care specialist to find out what option works best for you.