Hearing is a sense that we use to navigate everyday life. So when hearing is impaired, it can have multifaceted effects that take a toll on health and wellness. Nearly 1 in 5 people have some degree of impaired hearing, a medical condition that impacts over 48 million people. Though it is common, hearing loss still remains undertreated. Only a third of people who could benefit from treatment, actually receive it. There are effective hearing solutions that not only improve hearing but also transform health in major ways. A major benefit of treating hearing loss is that it can help prevent other health issues.
Untreated Hearing Loss and Impact on Health
Hearing loss is a medical condition that reduces a person’s capacity to hear and process speech as well as sound. This produces a range of symptoms including tinnitus (a buzzing or ringing noise in the ears), sounds are slurred or muffled, and difficulty hearing and following conversations. These symptoms, which can be experienced from mild to severe, can take a toll on health by:
- straining communication: hearing loss symptoms make it tough to hear and participate in conversations. The brain is forced to work harder in trying to hear which can be exhausting. This may increase miscommunication, lead to unpleasant interactions, or conversations where you are pretending to hear just to get through them.
- social withdrawal: because conversations become challenging to engage in, people may avoid them as much as possible. This includes skipping out on social events and gatherings, participating less in activities, and spending less time with loved ones. This can strain relationships and wellness.
- increasing health risks: extensive research shows that untreated hearing loss can increase a number of health risks. This includes cognitive decline, depressive symptoms, accidental injuries, and falls.
These multifaceted effects of untreated hearing loss can increase health risks and contribute to the development of health issues. This highlights the importance of intervening and addressing hearing loss which offers countless benefits.
Extensive research identifies hearing loss as a risk factor for cognitive decline. This increases the risk of developing conditions like dementia and Alzheimer’s. A significant study that included 10,107 participants found that cognitive decline was 54% higher for people with severe hearing loss. Numerous studies show a significant correlation between hearing loss and cognitive decline. Experts suggest that this is due to reduced activity of the areas of the brain that are responsible for processing auditory information. These areas can shrink, experience a loss of neurons, and a changing of neural networks which impact cognitive function.
Hearing aids, the most common treatment for hearing loss, can help prevent this by supporting brain health. Studies have also shown that hearing aids can strengthen cognitive functions. Hearing aids provide the ears and brain with significant support by helping absorb and process sound. This makes it easier to hear and alleviates hearing loss symptoms. Hearing aids aid the brain, strengthening cognitive functions which can reduce the risk of cognitive decline.
Untreated hearing loss can also increase the risk of depressive symptoms. A 2015 study found that people with hearing loss can be more than twice as likely to experience depressive symptoms – social withdrawal, loneliness, isolation etc. Social withdrawal is a common outcome of untreated hearing loss. This can affect relationships, cause people to become inactive and isolated, and withdrawn. Depressive symposium impacts mental health, happiness, and wellness.
Hearing aids have been found to alleviate depressive symptoms. A 2016 study found that among hearing aid users, depressive symptoms improved by:
- 28% after 6 months of wearing hearing aids
- depressive symptoms continued to decrease, by 16% at the 12 month mark
Hearing aids strengthen communication which improves relationships, enriches social engagement, and boosts health. This transforms mental health and wellness.
Another health risk of untreated hearing loss is accidental injuries. Studies have shown that people with hearing loss can be nearly three times more likely to have a history of falling. Hearing aids alleviate this risk by increasing hearing capacity and spatial awareness, contributing to greater safety and decreasing the risk of falls.
Contact us today to schedule an appointment for a hearing test. Treating hearing loss can transform your overall health and quality of life.