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 picture hearing loss. The fact is, hearing loss has escalated sharply among all age groups and it impacts more than just your ability to hear. If it is left untreated it can cause startling effects. These four by themselves make it worth having your hearing tested.

1. Cognitive Decline

While you might not have previously known it, hearing loss can influence your overall health. Your cognitive function and brain health are the most serious example. Hearing decline is the true cause of certain conditions which some people associate with aging.

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. It’s that mechanism of hearing that enables you to recognize the difference between the music coming from your car radio and the music the ice cream truck plays as it drives down your street.

Even if you’re not aware of it, the brain encounters sound every microsecond. There is still ambient sound around you even if you are relaxing in a quiet room, such as air hissing in through a vent. Your brain interprets this as a sound you don’t need to hear, 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. It strains to hear the missing sound thinking it should still be there. The fatigue on the brain and absence of stimuli can bring about cognitive decline that increases your risk of dementia later in your 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 ability if they have hearing loss and they get hearing aids.

2. Stomach Issues

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

  • Muscle tension
  • Anxiety
  • Upset stomach

The ongoing stress can manifest intestinal problems like:

  • Constipation
  • Diarrhea
  • Abdominal cramps

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

3. Mental Health Problems

The most obvious side effect is probably 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.

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

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

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

People who can’t successfully communicate stop trying and that results in sadness and psychological strain.

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.

Personal relationships also suffer because of hearing loss. A 2007 survey found 35 percent of the respondents with hearing loss had trouble maintaining relationships. The survey showed:

  • Thirty-five percent of men Had to be pressured into getting treatment by their partner or spouse before they would agree to it.
  • Forty-three percent of men indicated that hearing loss caused relationship problems
  • Most women indicated relationships with family members and friends were a significant concern with the hearing loss
  • Thirty-seven percent of women interviewed reported getting frustrated when someone who has hearing loss wasn’t listening to them

Hearing loss impacts your health, your self-esteem, and your relationships. When you get hearing aids many of these side effects disappear and that’s good news. Make an appointment with a hearing care specialist to learn what solution works best for you.