The Cost of Untreated Hearing Loss
Medical and Emotional Consequences
Untreated hearing loss will eventually damage your physical, emotional, and social health and well-being. These lifestyle changes will also have an unsettling effect on your relationship with loved ones, family, and friends. A growing body of scientific research indicates that hearing loss can lead to or increase the effects of serious medical and emotional conditions such as cardiovascular disease, dementia, Alzheimer’s Disease, Auditory Deprivation, and depression.
Untreated hearing loss can lead to Auditory Deprivation
The hearing system sends signals to the brain, and the brain “learns” to expect a full frequency of these signals. People with hearing loss transmit incomplete signals to the brain, resulting in auditory deprivation. Prolonged auditory deprivation may cause your brain to forget how to interpret auditory impulses, leading to decreasing communication and other problems.
Untreated hearing loss, dementia, and Alzheimer’s disease
People with hearing problems are more likely to develop thinking and memory problems like dementia and Alzheimer’s disease, according to a recent study from the National Institute of Aging. The risk for these disorders increases with increasing levels of hearing loss; for every 10 decibels of hearing loss, the chance of developing severe cognitive disorders increases by 20 percent. A recent study ( Hearing Loss and Incident Dementia) by the Johns Hopkins School of medicine found a strong link between untreated hearing loss and the development of dementia.
Untreated hearing loss can lead to depression
Research shows that people with untreated hearing loss may be at an increased risk of depression. One of these studies surveyed 2,300 adults over the age of 50 and found that people with untreated hearing loss were much more likely to feel depressed, anxious, and alone. On the other hand, studies also show that when people with mild-to-profound hearing loss use hearing aids, they experience less depressive symptoms, anxiety, and emotional instability… but significant improvements in their quality of life and well-being.
Hearing loss and cardiovascular disease
Research shows a strong relationship between cardiovascular disease and low-frequency hearing loss. A ground-breaking study postulates that low-frequency hearing loss patterns on an audiogram may provide a predictive signal for impending or developing cardiovascular disease.
Untreated hearing loss leads to serious negative lifestyle changes, which often effect family, friends, and others. These changes include an increased risk of personal injury; irritability, pessimism and anger; fatigue, tension and stress; social withdrawal and isolation; and diminished overall health.
The negative lifestyle effects of untreated hearing loss:
- Tension, irritability, and frustration from prolonged communication difficulties.
- Feelings of inadequacy from poor social interactions. This can lead to a fear of being ridiculed, pitied, or appearing to have low intelligence. Eventually, it can lead to increasing social isolation, and all the negative effects associated with isolation.
- A sense of premature aging, of being handicapped or abnormal.
- Embarrassment from repeatedly interrupting conversations for clarification, or from not understanding conversations.
- The bottom line: Untreated hearing loss will eventually cause negative lifestyle changes.
The effects of hearing loss on family, friends, and others:
- A higher frequency of relationship problems from miscommunication. People with significant hearing loss may answer a question inappropriately or not at all. They may not understand requests, comments, or instructions, leading to undesired actions or inaction.
- Companions often need to interpret for an individual with hearing loss. This can create stressful conversational difficulties.
- Feelings of rejection or misunderstanding resulting from communication problems.
- Feelings of guilt from excluding a person with hearing loss from conversation or activities.
- Feelings of resentment from not being able to fully enjoy preferred activities because a companion has become increasingly reclusive due to their hearing loss.
- Constant concern or anxiety about the safety of an individual with hearing loss.
- The bottom line: Untreated hearing loss will create negative effects for your life companion, family, and friends.
The Bottom Line
Untreated hearing loss can seriously damage your physical, emotional, and social health and well being. Your family, friends, and others will not escape these changes.
The effects of hearing loss can be mitigated with current technology (digital hearing aids, cochlear implants) and post-fitting rehabilitation.
A hearing exam by a well qualified Audiologist may reveal serious underlying medical conditions before you actually have any symptoms. Early detection is often critical for a good medical prognosis.
Why slowly suffer these consequences when you have a choice?
Click below for the previous and next topic:
Hearing loss is often caused by normal aging or exposure to damaging sounds, but underlying medical conditions can also be a factor. This section describes the types and progression of hearing disorders. Learn more, here
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