4 Side Effects of Hearing Loss That May Surprise You

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”? The fact is, hearing loss has risen sharply among all age groups and it affects more than just your ability to hear. If it goes untreated it can cause alarming repercussions. It’s worth getting your hearing checked based only on these four.

1. Mental Decline

Hearing is a sense that you might not associate with other health troubles but there is a connection. Brain health and cognitive function are the most serious examples. There is evidence that some conditions people associate with aging, like memory loss, may really be caused by hearing decline.

When it comes to hearing loss, the brain’s innate ability to adapt to sensory changes backfires. The brain can understand sound that is processed through the inner ear when hearing is normal. The difference between the music coming from your car radio and the music the ice cream truck plays as it heads down the street is processed by this mechanism.

Each microsecond, the brain experiences sound even if you don’t notice it. There is still ambient sound around you even if you are resting in a quiet room, such as air hissing in through a vent. Your brain interprets this as a sound you don’t need to know about, so you don’t notice it.

This stimulus is something the brain comes to count on. All of a sudden, when there is hearing loss, the brain doesn’t get the same quality or quantity of sound. It still expects it to be there, though and struggles to find it. The lack of stimuli causes the brain to stress bringing about cognitive decline and a higher risk of dementia. Seniors have a forty percent higher instance of memory loss and cognitive decline if they have hearing loss, according to studies. Even more persuasive is the fact that people have been shown to improve their cognitive functions if they have hearing loss and invest in hearing aids.

2. Stomach Problems

That seems like it might seem far-fetched, but it’s not. Side effects associated with changes you experience because of hearing loss are:

  • Muscle tension
  • Anxiety
  • Upset stomach

The continuous strain can cause intestinal problems like:

  • Constipation
  • Abdominal cramps
  • Diarrhea

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

3. Mental Health Concerns

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

Research published in the JAMA Otolaryngology Neck Surgery found people who have untreated hearing loss have a hard time communicating with others and that probably accounts for the depression. The research shows that depression is more pronounced in women between the ages of 18 to 69.

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

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

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

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 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:

  • Thirty-seven percent of women questioned reported being frustrated when someone who has hearing loss wasn’t listening to them
  • Most women indicated relationships with family members and friends were a significant concern with the hearing loss
  • 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 hearing loss caused relationship problems

Hearing loss impacts your health, your self-esteem, as well as your relationships. What’s promising is many of these side effects go away or lesson when you get help like hearing aids. Schedule an appointment with a hearing specialist to find out what course of action will work best for you.

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