Hearing deficit is treacherously sneaky. It creeps up on an individual through the years so little by little you barely notice, making it all too easy to deny it’s even there. And afterwards, when you finally recognize the signs and symptoms, you shrug it off as inconvenient and frustrating because its most detrimental effects are hidden.
For a staggering 48 million American citizens that report some level of hearing loss, the repercussions are much greater than simply inconvenience and frustration.1 Here are 8 reasons why untreated hearing loss is a lot more dangerous than you might think:
1. Link to Dementia and Alzheimer’s disease
A report from Johns Hopkins University and the National Institute on Aging reveals that those with hearing loss are substantially more susceptible to suffer from dementia, including Alzheimer’s disease, compared with individuals who sustain their ability to hear.2
Although the explanation for the link is ultimately unknown, researchers believe that hearing loss and dementia may share a mutual pathology, or that years of stressing the brain to hear could bring about harm. Another explanation is that hearing loss often results in social seclusion — a significant risk factor for dementia.
Irrespective of the cause, recovering hearing might be the optimum prevention, including the use of hearing aids.
2. Depression and social isolation
Investigators from the National Institute on Deafness and Other Communication Disorders (NIDCD), part of the National Institutes of Health, have discovered a strong association between hearing loss and depression among U.S. adults of all ages and races.3
3. Not hearing alerts to danger
Automobile horns, ambulance and police sirens, and fire alarms all are designed to warn you to possible hazards. If you miss out on these types of signals, you put yourself at an elevated risk of injury.
4. Memory impairment and mental decline
Studies reveal that adults with hearing loss have a 40% larger rate of decline in cognitive ability in contrast to individuals with healthy hearing.4 The head author of the investigation, 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 is the reason why raising awareness as to the connection between hearing loss and cognitive decline is Dr. Lin’s top concern.
5. Lower household income
In a study of more than 40,000 households carried out by the Better Hearing Institute, hearing loss was found to negatively affect household income by as much as $12,000 annually, based on the extent of hearing loss.5 individuals who used hearing aids, however, reduced this impact by 50%.
The capacity to communicate at the job is vital to job performance and advancement. The fact is, communication skills are regularly ranked as the top job-related skill-set desired by recruiters and the top 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 slogan to live by. As an example, if we don’t make use of our muscles, they atrophy or shrink over the years, and we end up losing strength. It’s only through exercise and repetitive use that we can reclaim our physical strength.
The same phenomenon pertains to hearing: as our hearing deteriorates, we get trapped in a descending spiral that only gets worse. This is recognized as auditory deprivation, and a developing body of research is strengthening the “hearing atrophy” that can appear with hearing loss.
7. Underlying medical conditions
Although the most common cause of hearing loss is connected to age and regular direct exposure to loud noise, hearing loss is every now and then the symptom of a more severe, underlying medical condition. Possible conditions include:
- Heart disease, high blood pressure, and diabetes
- Otosclerosis – the solidifying of the middle ear bones
- Ménière’s disease – a condition 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
On account of the seriousness of some of the ailments, it is crucial that any hearing loss is quickly assessed.
8. Greater risk of falls
Research has found a number of connections between hearing loss and serious disorders like dementia, Alzheimer’s disease, depression, and anxiety. An additional study carried out by scientists at Johns Hopkins University has revealed still another discouraging connection: the connection between hearing loss and the risk of falls.6
The research reveals that individuals with a 25-decibel hearing loss, categorized as mild, were approximately three times more likely to have a record of falling. And for every additional 10-decibels of hearing loss, the probability of falling increased by 1.4 times.
Don’t wait to get your hearing tested
The favorable side to all of this pessimistic research is the suggestion that protecting or repairing your hearing can help to lower or eliminate these risks entirely. For the people that currently have normal hearing, it is more crucial than ever to look after it. And for anyone suffering with hearing loss, it’s vital to seek the help of a hearing specialist as soon as possible.
- 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