Hearing impairment is treacherously sneaky. It creeps up on an individual through the years so gradually you scarcely detect it, making it easy to deny or ignore. And then, when you at last recognize the signs and symptoms, you shrug it off as inconvenient and irritating due to the fact that its true effects are hidden.
For up to 48 million Americans that say they experience some level of hearing loss, the repercussions are significantly greater than merely aggravation and frustration.1 Here are 8 reasons why untreated hearing loss is much more dangerous than you may assume:
1. Link to Dementia and Alzheimer’s disease
A report from Johns Hopkins University and the National Institute on Aging indicates that people with hearing loss are substantially more susceptible to develop dementia, including Alzheimer’s disease, when compared with people who retain their ability to hear.2
Although the reason for the link is ultimately undetermined, scientists think that hearing loss and dementia may share a common pathology, or that several years of straining the brain to hear could result in harm. An additional explanation is that hearing loss commonly leads to social solitude — a chief risk factor for dementia.
No matter what the cause, restoring hearing might be the best prevention, which includes 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 shown a strong connection between hearing damage and depression among American adults of all ages and races.3
3. Not hearing alerts to danger
Car horns, ambulance and law enforcement sirens, and fire alarms all are specifically created to notify you to possible danger. If you miss out on these signals, you put yourself at an elevated risk of injury.
4. Memory impairment and mental decline
Investigations indicate that individuals with hearing loss endure a 40% larger rate of decline in cognitive ability in contrast to individuals with normal hearing.4 The lead author of the study, 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 growing awareness as to the link between hearing loss and cognitive decline is Dr. Lin’s foremost concern.
5. Lowered household income
In a review of more than 40,000 households performed by the Better Hearing Institute, hearing loss was discovered to adversely impact household income up to $12,000 annually, dependent on the measure of hearing loss.5 individuals who wore hearing aids, however, reduced this impact by 50%.
The ability to communicate in the workplace is critical to job performance and promotion. The fact is, communication skills are always ranked as the number one job-related skill-set targeted by managers and the top factor for promotion.
6. Auditory deprivation – use it or lose it
In regard to the human body, “use it or lose it” is a slogan to live by. For example, if we don’t use our muscles, they atrophy or reduce in size as time passes, and we end up losing strength. It’s only through physical exercise and repeated use that we can recoup our physical strength.
The equivalent phenomenon pertains to hearing: as our hearing weakens, we get ensnared in a descending spiral that only gets worse. This is recognized as auditory deprivation, and a multiplying body of research is strengthening the “hearing atrophy” that can happen with hearing loss.
7. Underlying medical conditions
Despite the fact that the most common cause of hearing loss is associated with age and lasting exposure to loud sound, hearing loss is once in a while the symptom of a more serious, underlying medical condition. Potential ailments include:
- Cardiovascular disease, high blood pressure, and diabetes
- Otosclerosis – the hardening of the middle ear bones
- Ménière’s disease – a disease of the inner ear affecting hearing and balance
- Traumatic injuries
- Infections, earwax buildup, or blockages from foreign objects
- Medications – there are more than 200 medications and chemicals that are known to cause hearing and balance problems
Because of the seriousness of some of the ailments, it is vital that any hearing loss is promptly assessed.
8. Increased risk of falls
Research has exposed a variety of connections between hearing loss and dangerous diseases like dementia, Alzheimer’s disease, depression, and anxiety. An additional study conducted by investigators at Johns Hopkins University has discovered yet another disheartening connection: the link between hearing loss and the risk of falls.6
The research reveals that people with a 25-decibel hearing loss, categorized as mild, were just about three times more likely to have a track record of falling. And for every added 10-decibels of hearing loss, the probability of falling increased by 1.4 times.
Don’t wait to get your hearing tested
The optimistic side to all of this pessimistic research is the suggestion that protecting or repairing your hearing can help to lessen or eliminate these risks completely. For those that now have normal hearing, it is more critical than ever to look after it. And for everyone 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