You might think the worse thing about your hearing loss is you need to turn the TV up a little bit during your favorite show, but the effect it has on your life is much more extensive.
You might be surprised how much hearing loss changes things for you both physically and mentally – beyond just interfering with your ability to hear – especially if you don’t do anything to remedy the situation like seeing an ear specialist and getting a professional hearing test. Consider some side effects that come with untreated hearing loss.
That Annoying Ringing
You can’t hear the TV anymore, but you are hearing something. It is estimated that around 50 million people in this country hear phantom noises in one or both ears. This condition, known as tinnitus, is typically associated with some type of hearing loss. It might be a persistent ringing noise or you might hear:
It could even sound like you have that ear pressed up against a seashell. While not really dangerous, tinnitus can be nerve-wracking. For most suffers, it will have an effect on their quality of life over time.
Increased Risk of Dementia
Put simply, you are putting yourself at greater risk of developing dementia or Alzheimer’s disease by ignoring your hearing loss. It is unclear why there is a connection between these two problems but one theory is that the strain of trying to understand words becomes overwhelming for the brain, putting you at risk for cognitive disorders and other health-related problems like falls.
There is evidence that people with untreated hearing loss may have an increased risk of accelerated brain tissue loss, as well, according to Johns Hopkins Medicine. One study found that there was a marked difference in the structure of the brain for people with hearing loss, as compared to those with normal hearing. These changes left their brains smaller in size.
Mental Health Concerns
The inability to understand what you hear can lead to social isolation and other mental health issues, too. People who try to engage in conversation may:
- Misunderstand words
- Speak louder than they realize
- Ask friends and family to repeat themselves often
It’s very common to say “What” almost automatically and not really realize you are doing it. It is this combination of factors that can lead the hearing challenged for stop trying to interact with others. The effect hearing loss has on quality of life becomes cumulative, too. Often older adults experiencing hearing loss will suffer from:
- Anxiety disorders
They may get a false sense that people are angry at them, as well. Without proper interventions like hearing aids, they become isolated and lonely. Many times they don’t even realize that hearing loss is responsible, especially if they refuse to see a doctor.
The struggle to hear each day without assistance become overwhelming and fatigue sets in. Those with hearing loss work harder than most to understand even basic conversations. It is an experience that is both mentally and physically draining. That fatigue can lead to:
- Tense muscles
- Digestive problems
Older individuals don’t always realize their hearing is lacking, either, so it seems almost like they feel tired for no reason. That makes them try that much harder to keep up.
The struggle to hear puts a strain on you both emotionally and physically. If you feel tired or are experiencing symptoms that you just don’t understand, now is a good time to make an appointment for an ear exam. A hearing test can provide clarity that may lead to a solution to your hearing problem and the side effects that come with it.