4 Surprising Side Effects of Hearing Loss

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 out-dated hearing aid saying, “What’s that sonny”? Impacting more than just your ability to hear, hearing loss has increased dramatically among all age groups. If it goes untreated it can cause startling repercussions. It’s worth having your hearing tested based only on these four.

1. Cognitive Decline

Although you might not have previously known it, hearing loss can affect your overall health. Brain health and cognitive function are the most significant examples. Hearing decline is actually the cause of certain conditions which some people connect with aging.

When it comes to hearing loss, the brain’s innate 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. 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 sorted out by this mechanism.

The brain encounters sound each microsecond whether you think you are hearing something or not. If you are relaxing in a quiet room, there is still background noise around you, like the hiss of air blowing into the AC vent. Your brain interprets this as a sound you don’t need to know about, so you don’t even notice it.

The brain comes to count on this stimulus. The brain doesn’t get the same quality or quantity of sound when there is hearing loss. It strains to hear the missing sound believing it should still be there. The absence of stimuli causes stress to the brain resulting in cognitive decline and a greater 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, people who suffer from hearing loss that get treatment such as hearings aids have been shown to improve cognitive ability.

2. Gut Trouble

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

  • Muscle tension
  • Anxiety
  • Upset stomach

The ongoing strain can manifest intestinal issues like:

  • Diarrhea
  • Abdominal cramps
  • Constipation

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

3. Mental Health Concerns

Probably, the most noticeable side effect is the impact hearing loss has on your mental health. A 2014 study found that an increase in depression correlates to a decline of hearing 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 hard time communicating with others, according to JAMA Otolaryngology Neck Surgery. The research suggests that for women between the ages of 18 to 69 the depression is more pronounced.

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

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

People stop trying if they can’t communicate effectively and that causes 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 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:

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

Hearing loss impacts your health, your self-esteem, and your relationships. 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 find out what option works 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.