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

An elderly person with an old-fashioned hearing aid saying “what’s that sonny”, is what many people think of when hearing loss is mentioned. Hearing loss affects more than just your ability to hear and has escalated dramatically amongst every age group. Alarming repercussions result from not getting it taken care of. It’s worth getting your hearing tested based solely on these four.

1. Cognitive Decline

Though you might not have previously known it, hearing loss can influence your overall health. Brain health and cognitive function are the most significant examples. Some conditions frequently connected to aging are in fact caused by hearing loss.

The brain has an extraordinary ability to adapt to sensory changes, but that backfires when it comes to hearing loss. Sound is processed through the inner ear in a way the brain can understand if hearing is normal. The difference between the music playing on 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 sitting in a quiet room, such as air hissing in through a vent. Your brain filters it out because it decides you don’t need to hear it.

The brain comes to expect this stimulus. When there is loss of hearing, suddenly it doesn’t receive the same quantity or quality of sound. Believing the missing sound should still be there, it struggles to find it. Your risk of dementia is increased as the absence of stimuli leads to cognitive decline due to increased stress on the brain. Seniors have a forty percent higher rate of memory loss and cognitive decline if they have hearing loss, according to studies. Even more compelling, people who suffer from hearing loss that get treatment such as hearings aids have been shown to improve cognitive ability.

2. Gut Issues

That’s not as far-fetched as it seems. Side effects related to changes you experience due to hearing loss are:

  • Upset stomach
  • Anxiety
  • Muscle tension

The constant strain can manifest intestinal problems like:

  • Constipation
  • Abdominal cramps
  • Diarrhea

More severe conditions such as irritable bowel syndrome will occur as your 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 depression is most likely accounted for by the fact that people who suffer from hearing loss have a tough time communicating with others, according to JAMA Otolaryngology Neck Surgery. The research indicates 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:

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

People who can’t effectively communicate stop trying and that results in sadness and psychological stress.

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 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
  • 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.
  • Thirty-seven percent of women questioned reported getting annoyed when someone who has hearing loss wasn’t listening to them

How you feel about yourself and the world and the state of your health are affected by hearing loss. It also has an effect on your relationships. When you get hearing aids many of these side effects go away and that’s good news. Make an appointment with a hearing care specialist to find out what solution works best for you.