Hearing deficit is treacherously sneaky. It creeps up on you through the years so gradually you scarcely detect it, making it all too easy to deny it’s even there. And afterwards, when you finally acknowledge the symptoms, you shrug it off as troublesome and frustrating due to the fact that its true effects are hidden.
For roughly 48 million Us citizens that say they experience some extent of hearing loss, the effects are far greater than only aggravation and frustration.1 Here are 8 reasons why untreated hearing loss is far more dangerous than you may imagine:
1. Link to Dementia and Alzheimer’s disease
A study from Johns Hopkins University and the National Institute on Aging reveals that people with hearing loss are substantially more likely to suffer from dementia, including Alzheimer’s disease, in contrast with those who retain their hearing.2
Even though the reason for the link is ultimately undetermined, scientists sense that hearing loss and dementia could possibly share a common pathology, or that years and years of straining the brain to hear could produce damage. A different hypothesis is that hearing loss many times results in social solitude — a foremost risk factor for dementia.
No matter what the cause, recovering hearing may be the best prevention, which includes the use of hearing aids.
2. Depression and social isolation
Scientists from the National Institute on Deafness and Other Communication Disorders (NIDCD), part of the National Institutes of Health, have uncovered a strong relationship between hearing loss and depression among U.S. adults of all ages and races.3
3. Not hearing alerts to danger
Car horns, ambulance and police sirens, and fire alarms all are developed to alert you to potential danger. If you miss these types of signals, you put yourself at an higher risk of injury.
4. Memory impairment and mental decline
Studies suggest that individuals with hearing loss suffer from a 40% higher rate of decline in cognitive performance compared to individuals with normal hearing.4 The head author of the report, Frank R. Lin, MD, PhD, of Johns Hopkins University, stated that “going forward for the next 30 or 40 years that from a public health perspective, there’s nothing more important than cognitive decline and dementia as the population ages.” That’s the reason why growing awareness as to the link between hearing loss and cognitive decline is Dr. Lin’s highest concern.
5. Reduced household income
In a review of more than 40,000 households conducted by the Better Hearing Institute, hearing loss was revealed to negatively influence household income by as much as $12,000 annually, based on the extent of hearing loss.5 individuals who wore hearing aids, however, cut this impact by 50%.
The ability to communicate in the workplace is essential to job performance and advancement. The fact is, communication skills are frequently ranked as the top job-related skill-set targeted by managers and the leading factor for promotion.
6. Auditory deprivation – use it or lose it
When it comes to the human body, “use it or lose it” is a motto to live by. For example, if we don’t make use of our muscles, they atrophy or reduce in size as time passes, and we end up losing strength. It’s only through physical exercise and repetitive use that we can reclaim our physical strength.
The same phenomenon is applicable to hearing: as our hearing degrades, we get stuck in a downward spiral that only gets worse. This is referred to as auditory deprivation, and a growing body of research is strengthening the “hearing atrophy” that can appear with hearing loss.
7. Underlying medical conditions
While the most common cause of hearing loss is associated with age and regular exposure to loud sound, hearing loss is once in a while the symptom of a more serious, underlying medical condition. Potential ailments include:
- Heart disease, high blood pressure, and diabetes
- Otosclerosis – the solidifying of the middle ear bones
- Ménière’s disease – a disease of the inner ear affecting hearing and balance
- Traumatic injuries
- Infections, earwax buildup, or obstructions from foreign objects
- Medications – there are more than 200 medications and chemicals that are known to cause hearing and balance problems
As a consequence of the seriousness of some of the conditions, it is important that any hearing loss is immediately assessed.
8. Increased risk of falls
Research has uncovered a wide variety of connections between hearing loss and serious conditions like dementia, Alzheimer’s disease, depression, and anxiety. An additional study carried out by scientists at Johns Hopkins University has uncovered still another discouraging link: the connection between hearing loss and the risk of falls.6
The study reveals that individuals with a 25-decibel hearing loss, characterized as mild, were nearly three times more likely to have a track record of falling. And for every added 10-decibels of hearing loss, the chances of falling increased by 1.4 times.
Don’t wait to get your hearing tested
The optimistic part to all of this pessimistic research is the suggestion that sustaining or repairing your hearing can help to decrease or eliminate these risks completely. For all those that now have normal hearing, it is more important than ever to take care of it. And for the people struggling with hearing loss, it’s imperative to seek the help of a hearing specialist right away.
- Hearing Loss Association of America: Basic Facts About Hearing Loss
- Johns Hopkins Medicine: Hearing Loss and Dementia Linked in Study
- National Institute on Deafness and Other Communication Disorders: NIDCD Researchers Find Strong Link between Hearing Loss and Depression in Adults
- Medscape: Hearing Loss Linked to Cognitive Decline, Impairment
- Better Hearing Institute: The Impact of Untreated Hearing Loss on Household Income
- Johns Hopkins Medicine: Hearing Loss Linked to Three-Fold Risk of Falling