Hearing Loss Has 4 Unexpected Side Effects

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

An elderly person with an out-dated hearing aid saying “what’s that sonny”, is what most people think about when hearing loss is talked about. Hearing loss has an effect on more than just your ability to hear and has increased dramatically among every age group. Surprising consequences result from failing to get it taken care of. These four by themselves make it worth having your hearing checked.

1. Cognitive Decline

There is an association between hearing loss and other health problems, though you may not have previously been aware of them. Your cognitive function and brain health are the most significant example. There is evidence that some conditions people associate with aging, such as memory loss, may actually be caused by hearing decline.

The brain has an impressive 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 sorted out by this mechanism.

Even if you don’t notice it, the brain encounters sound every microsecond. Air hissing in through a vent and other ambient sounds are all around you even if you are sitting in a quiet room. Your brain filters it out because it decides you don’t need to hear it.

The brain comes to count on this stimulus. When there is hearing loss, all of a sudden it doesn’t receive the same quantity or quality of sound. It strains to find the missing sound believing it should still be present. The lack of stimuli causes the brain to stress leading to cognitive decline and a higher risk of dementia. 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 functions if they suffer from hearing loss and they get hearing aids.

2. Gut Trouble

That’s not as much of a stretch as it seems. Side effects related to changes you experience due to hearing loss are:

  • Muscle tension
  • Anxiety
  • Upset stomach

The ongoing stress can cause intestinal issues like:

  • Abdominal cramps
  • Diarrhea
  • Constipation

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

3. Mental Health Concerns

The most obvious side effect is probably 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.

Research published in the JAMA Otolaryngology Neck Surgery found people who have untreated hearing loss find it difficult communicating with others and that likely accounts for the depression. The research indicates that for women between the ages of 18 to 69 the depression is more pronounced.

Through the years, the untreated hearing loss has been linked to many mental health problems including:

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

People stop trying if they can’t communicate successfully and that causes depression and psychological stress.

4. Relationship Troubles

Hearing loss impacts more than just your physical and mental health. People with poor hearing statistically 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.

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-seven percent of women questioned reported being annoyed when somebody with hearing loss wasn’t listening to them
  • Most women indicated that hearing loss was a significant concern when communicating with friends and family members.
  • 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

Hearing loss affects your health, your self-esteem, and your relationships. When you get hearing aids quite a few of these side effects go away and that’s good news. Make an appointment with a hearing care specialist to learn 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.