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

Imagine hearing loss and the majority of people picture an elderly person with an old-fashioned hearing aid saying, “What’s that sonny”? The fact is, hearing loss has escalated dramatically among all age groups and it affects more than just your ability to hear. Alarming consequences result from failing to get it treated. Based only on these four, it’s worth having your hearing tested.

1. Cognitive Decline

While you might not have previously known it, hearing loss can influence your general health. Brain health and cognitive function are the most significant examples. There is evidence that some conditions people associate with aging, like memory loss, might actually be caused by hearing decline.

When it comes to hearing loss, the brain’s innate ability to adjust to sensory changes backfires. For somebody with regular hearing, a sound is processed through the inner ear in a way that the brain can understand. It’s that mechanism of hearing that enables you to identify 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’re not aware of it, the brain encounters sound every microsecond. Air hissing in through a vent and other background sounds are around you even if you are resting in a quiet room. 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. Suddenly, when there is loss of hearing, the brain doesn’t get the same quality or quantity of sound. It still expects it to be there, though and strains to find it. The stress on the brain and absence of stimuli can result in cognitive decline that raises your chances of dementia later on in your life. Memory loss and cognitive decline are forty percent more common in seniors with hearing loss, according to studies. Even more compelling is the fact that people have been shown to improve their cognitive ability if they suffer from hearing loss and get hearing aids.

2. Stomach Trouble

That’s not as far-fetched as it seems. The changes you experience due to hearing loss have been associated with side effects like:

  • Anxiety
  • Upset stomach
  • Muscle tension

The constant strain can manifest intestinal problems like:

  • Constipation
  • Diarrhea
  • Abdominal cramps

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

3. Mental Health Problems

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

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

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

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

Psychological anxiety and sadness are the outcome when a person can’t communicate successfully and stops trying.

4. Relationship Troubles

The side effects 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 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-five percent of men reported they agreed to treatment for hearing loss because their spouse or partner pressured them into it
  • Thirty-seven percent of women surveyed reported getting irritated when someone with hearing loss wasn’t listening to them
  • Forty-three percent of men indicated that they had trouble with relationships due to their hearing loss
  • Most women indicated that hearing loss was a significant concern when communicating with friends and family members.

Hearing loss has an effect on your relationships as well as your health and your self-esteem. When you get hearing aids quite a few of these side effects go away and that’s good news. Schedule an appointment with a hearing specialist to find out what course of action will work best for you.

The site information is for educational and informational purposes only and does not constitute medical advice. To receive personalized advice or treatment, schedule an appointment.

Main Line Audiology Consultants, PC