Are you surprised to learn that hearing loss is more than just your ears? Ears are the method of hearing, so the damage done to them due to aging, trauma or illness is why someone can’t hear, but did you know there’s more to it than the loss of one’s hearing bleeds into a number of other aspects of their life. It’s a dramatic change for someone who has always had the ability to hear. Consider some ways that hearing loss has a significant impact on more than just the ears.
A 2006 report published by the Australian company Access Economics states there is a link between salary potential and hearing. They found that an individual with hearing loss will potentially make about 25 percent less than the ones that do listen, but why?
There are many things that could affect earnings. Someone who works without any hearing assistance device such as a hearing aid may miss out on crucial information. They might show up for a business meeting at 4 when it was really at 2 pm, for instance. Employers tend to value those with astute attention to detail, which is a challenge when you can not hear the details.
Work environments can be noisy and chaotic, too. An individual with hearing loss can become confused with that noise around them. They’ll struggle to speak on the phone, to listen to customers and to understand what coworkers are saying because in a noisy environment the background sounds like clacking keyboards or an air conditioner motor become pronounced.
Some of the very same problems at work become a problem at home. Hearing loss has the potential to cause conflict, especially when the individual with the problem continues to deny it. Little things such as saying “what” a lot during conversations and turning the TV up too loud irritate friends, family members, and spouses.
They may attempt to intervene and encourage this person to recognize their hearing loss, and that leads to friction, as well. It’s very common for people with hearing loss to detach themselves and refuse to go out and spend time with others. They struggle to keep up with conversations, so they do what they can to prevent them.
Mental Health Concerns
The problems at work and home take a toll on mental health over time. A 2014 study conducted by the U.S. National Institute on Deafness and Other Communication Disorders discovered a cause and effect relationship between hearing loss and melancholy. Their research indicates an increased risk of depression, especially among girls and people under the age of 70. Their risk of depression goes from 5 percent to approximately 11 percent with hearing loss.
A second study from the Senior Research Group indicates that the risk of mental health issues including depression, anxiety and paranoia goes up when a person with hearing loss doesn’t use hearing aids. The study participants who didn’t wear hearing aids reported everything from feelings of sadness to sudden fits of anger more frequently than those who did wear them.
Security is always an issue for the hearing impaired. Most security systems, whether it’s a smoke or carbon monoxide detector or a perimeter alarm, work based on sound. They exude a high-frequency noise when there is a danger. Even people with minor hearing loss can have trouble hearing high pitched tones.
Personal safety becomes a problem when an individual with hearing loss spans the road or drives a car, too. Sound serves to indicate problems like a car coming down the street or a horn honking.
Medical science has made a connection between cognitive decline and hearing loss. It’s not clear why people with hearing loss have a higher risk of dementia. The current theory is that the mind struggles to listen and to compensate, it robs other vital functions like memory.
A 2011 study conducted by Johns Hopkins Medicine discovered that even someone with minor hearing loss is twice as likely to develop dementia. Moderate hearing loss increases the risk by three times and a person with severe hearing impairment is five times more likely to have Alzheimer’s disease and other forms of dementia. Hearing health is just one factor in memory loss conditions, but it’s an important one.
When someone has hearing loss, it’s true there is likely something wrong with their ears, but that’s just where it starts. The fantastic news is that getting help in the kind of hearing aids and other treatment choices reduces the chance of mental health problems, dementia and the various issues related to hearing decline.