The Consequences of Untreated Hearing Loss
Many people are aware that they have hearing loss but find it difficult to seek treatment. Those diagnosed with hearing loss wait an average of seven years before seeking treatment. The reasons for waiting for assistance vary; some are irritated by hearing loss and believe it is a sign of age. Others may believe their condition isn’t as serious as it is, or they may be unaware they have hearing issues.
Allowing hearing loss to go unchecked, on the other hand, might have catastrophic implications. Recent research emphasizes the social, psychological, cognitive, and health consequences of untreated hearing loss. These consequences can also differ, but they all have a negative influence on your quality of life.
The Emotional Consequences of Unexpected Hearing Loss
Untreated hearing loss has been related to a variety of emotional health issues, including:
- Irritation, negativism, and rage
- Fatigue, tension, stress, and depression are all symptoms of depression.
- Withdrawal or avoidance from social settings
- Loneliness and social rejection
- Personal safety is jeopardized due to decreased attentiveness
You may have difficulties following talks in a group situation if you have hearing loss. Because of this issue, you are more inclined to withdraw socially from interactions with friends and family, which can lead to sadness and anxiety over time. The notion of being involved in a professional meeting or huge gathering with various talks might make you nervous.
Hearing Loss Without Treatment and Related Cognitive Decline
Untreated hearing loss can have an influence on your cognitive health as well as your emotional well-being. When your hearing capacity deteriorates, your brain receives less stimulation than usual since it is not working to recognize distinct sounds and subtleties. This lack of brain activity can lead to memory loss or even dementia over time. Consider your brain in the same way you consider your body; if you work out the various muscle groups in your body, you will remain healthy overall. However, if you simply focus on one place, the other areas of your body will get weaker. This is the effect of untreated hearing loss on your brain. Memory loss becomes more likely when the region of your brain responsible for transmitting sound weakens.
There has been a lot of research lately that looks at the link between untreated hearing loss and cognitive changes. In 2013, a study from the Johns Hopkins Center of Aging and Health concluded that “individuals with hearing loss at baseline had a 24% increased risk for incident cognitive impairment,” and “Hearing loss is independently associated with accelerated cognitive decline and incident cognitive impairment in community-dwelling older adults.” This study also found that those with hearing loss showed a faster decline in cognition than normal hearing individuals.
Untreated hearing loss can cause an increase in cognitive load. This means that the brain is overworking and constantly focusing on what sounds are going on around them, the brain then does not function efficiently. Brain cells can also shrink overtime due to lack of auditory stimulation. As a person develops hearing loss, they can become more socially isolated over time. If they struggle to hear in conversations, they will stay home instead and be more reclusive. This isolation also contributes to a decrease of brain stimulation.
By treating a person’s hearing loss, they are helping to keep the brain stimulated. This stimulation helps a person better distinguish speech sounds in quiet and in noise. It also helps a person stay socially active and involved in conversations. If you are concerned about your hearing and cognitive changes, it is recommended you see a Doctor of Audiology for a full evaluation.
Wearing a Hearing Aid Has Many Benefits
The first step toward a better, happier life is to treat your hearing loss. Wearing a hearing aid can improve your life and opens numerous avenues that may have previously been closed to you. Other advantages of using hearing aids to address your hearing loss include:
- Hearing your grandchild say his or her first words
- Hearing nature once more
- Feeling more secure in cities
- Attending dinners in loud settings
- Having fun at events and having intelligent conversations
Hearing loss does not discriminate by age; it may affect everyone, from newborns to adults and elderly. Making an appointment with a hearing specialist is the best approach to learn how to obtain treatment. He or she will be able to assist you in determining the kind and severity of your hearing loss. The hearing care specialist will then be able to recommend a kind and style of hearing aid that will help you start living a better, more fulfilled life.
If you believe you or a loved one has hearing loss, don’t put it off any longer. Make an appointment with a hearing healthcare specialist to take the first step toward a world of greater hearing.
Lin FR, Yaffe K, Xia J, et al. Hearing Loss and Cognitive Decline in Older Adults. JAMA Intern Med. 2013;173(4):293–299. doi:https://doi.org/10.1001/jamainternmed.2013.1868