4 Striking Side Effects of Hearing Loss
The Hearing Clinic - Scarborough, ON

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

Most people think of an elderly person saying “what’s that sonny” when they think of hearing loss. The fact is, hearing loss has escalated dramatically among all age groups and it has an effect on more than just your ability to hear. There are shocking health consequences for people who ignore it. It’s worth having your hearing tested based only on these four.

1. Cognitive Decline

Hearing is a sense that you may not link to other health issues but there is a connection. The most significant is the impact hearing loss has on your cognitive functions and brain health. Hearing decline is actually the cause of certain conditions which some people connect with aging.

When it comes to hearing loss, the brain’s natural ability to adjust to sensory changes backfires. Sound is processed through the inner ear in a way the brain can understand if hearing is normal. This mechanism permits you to tell the difference between the music coming from your car stereo and the music the ice cream truck plays when it drives down your street.

Even if you’re not aware of it, the brain encounters sound every microsecond. 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 interprets this as a sound you don’t need to hear, so you don’t notice it.

The brain comes to expect this stimulus. Suddenly, when there is hearing loss, the brain doesn’t get the same quality or quantity of sound. It struggles to find the missing sound thinking it should still be there. The stress on the brain and lack of stimuli can bring about cognitive decline that raises your risk of dementia later on in life. Memory loss and cognitive decline are forty percent more common in seniors with hearing loss, according to studies. People have been shown, even more compellingly, to improve their cognitive functions if they suffer from hearing loss and they get hearing aids.

2. Gut Issues

That’s not as much of a stretch as it seems. Hearing loss leads to changes which are associated with:

  • Muscle tension
  • Upset stomach
  • Anxiety

The ongoing strain can manifest intestinal issues like:

  • Abdominal cramps
  • Diarrhea
  • Constipation

As the discomfort increases, you might end up with a more serious intestinal condition like Irritable Bowel Syndrome (IBS).

3. Mental Health Problems

More than likely, the most obvious side effect is the impact 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 decline in hearing.

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

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

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

People who can’t effectively communicate stop trying and that leads to depression and psychological strain.

4. Troubled Relationships

Hearing loss impacts more than just 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 brings about problems in personal relationships, too. 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 interviewed reported being frustrated when somebody who has hearing loss wasn’t listening to them
  • 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 relationships with family members and friends were a significant concern with the hearing loss
  • Forty-three percent of men indicated that they had trouble with relationships due to their hearing loss

Hearing loss has an effect on your relationships as well as your health and your self-esteem. What’s promising is many of these side effects disappear or lesson when you get help like hearing aids. Make an appointment with a hearing care specialist to learn what solution works best for you.

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