Hearing impairment is treacherously sneaky. It creeps up on a person over the years so gradually you barely detect it, making it all too easy to deny it’s even there. And afterwards, when you at last acknowledge the signs and symptoms, you shrug it off as troublesome and aggravating as its true effects are hidden.
For close to 48 million American citizens that claim some amount of hearing loss, the negative effects are considerably greater than simply irritation and frustration.1 The Following Are 8 reasons why untreated hearing loss is much more dangerous than you might imagine:
1. Connection to Dementia and Alzheimer’s disease
An investigation from Johns Hopkins University and the National Institute on Aging reveals that those with hearing loss are appreciably more likely to develop dementia, including Alzheimer’s disease, when compared with those who maintain their hearing.2
Whereas the cause for the association is ultimately undetermined, scientists sense that hearing loss and dementia could possibly share a mutual pathology, or that years of straining the brain to hear could generate damage. A different hypothesis is that hearing loss often times causes social separation — a prominent risk factor for dementia.
Regardless of the cause, repairing 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 discovered a strong relationship between hearing damage and depression among American adults of all ages and races.3
3. Not hearing alerts to danger
Car horns, ambulance and police sirens, and fire alarms all are designed to warn you to possible danger. If you miss out on these alerts, you put yourself at an elevated risk of injury.
4. Memory impairment and mental decline
Studies suggest that adults with hearing loss see a 40% greater rate of decrease in cognitive performance compared to those with healthy 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 increasing awareness as to the link between hearing loss and cognitive decline is Dr. Lin’s foremost priority.
5. Reduced household income
In a survey of over 40,000 households carried out by the Better Hearing Institute, hearing loss was found to negatively impact household income up to $12,000 annually, depending on the degree of hearing loss.5 Those who used hearing aids, however, decreased this impact by 50%.
The capacity to communicate at work is critical to job performance and promotion. In fact, communication skills are routinely ranked as the number one job-related skill-set most wished for by recruiters and the leading 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 motto to live by. For instance, if we don’t make use of our muscles, they atrophy or reduce in size over time, and we end up losing strength. It’s only through working out and repetitive use that we can reclaim our physical strength.
The equivalent phenomenon applies to hearing: as our hearing weakens, we get stuck in a downward spiral that only gets worse. This is often referred to as auditory deprivation, and a fast growing body of research is strengthening the “hearing atrophy” that can happen with hearing loss.
7. Underlying medical conditions
While the most common cause of hearing loss is associated with age and consistent direct exposure to loud sound, hearing loss is once in a while 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 disorder 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 issues
Considering the seriousness of some of the ailments, it is recommended that any hearing loss is promptly examined.
8. Higher risk of falls
Research has uncovered a large number of links between hearing loss and serious diseases like dementia, Alzheimer’s disease, depression, and anxiety. An additional study conducted by researchers at Johns Hopkins University has revealed still another discouraging link: the connection between hearing loss and the risk of falls.6
The research shows that people with a 25-decibel hearing loss, categorized as mild, were close to three times more likely to have a history of falling. And for every additional 10-decibels of hearing loss, the likelihood of falling increased by 1.4 times.
Don’t wait to get your hearing tested
The optimistic side to all of this negative research is the suggestion that preserving or restoring your hearing can help to minimize or eliminate these risks completely. For individuals that now have normal hearing, it is more important than ever to take care of it. And for those of you suffering with hearing loss, it’s imperative to seek the help of a hearing specialist without delay.