Hearing loss is dangerously sneaky. It creeps up on a person over the years so gradually you barely become aware of it , making it easy to deny or ignore. And then, when you finally recognize the signs and symptoms, you shrug it off as troublesome and irritating as its most detrimental effects are hidden.
For a staggering 48 million Us citizens that report some measure of hearing loss, the consequences are substantially greater than merely inconvenience and frustration.1 The Following Are 8 reasons why untreated hearing loss is more dangerous than you may assume:
1. Connection to Dementia and Alzheimer’s disease
A study from Johns Hopkins University and the National Institute on Aging indicates that people with hearing loss are considerably more likely to develop dementia, including Alzheimer’s disease, when compared with those who preserve their hearing.2
Although the cause for the connection is ultimately unknown, researchers believe that hearing loss and dementia could share a common pathology, or that several years of stressing the brain to hear could create harm. Another theory is that hearing loss often times results in social isolation — a top risk factor for dementia.
Regardless of the cause, restoring hearing could very well be the best prevention, which includes the use of hearing aids.
2. Depression and social isolation
Researchers from the National Institute on Deafness and Other Communication Disorders (NIDCD), part of the National Institutes of Health, have shown a strong relation between hearing impairment 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 created to alert you to possible hazards. If you miss out on these types of alerts, you place yourself at an higher risk of injury.
4. Memory impairment and mental decline
Investigations suggest that individuals with hearing loss endure a 40% larger rate of decline in cognitive function compared to individuals with regular hearing.4 The top author of the study, Frank R. Lin, MD, PhD, of Johns Hopkins University, said 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’s the reason why raising awareness as to the connection between hearing loss and cognitive decline is Dr. Lin’s leading priority.
5. Lower household income
In a survey of over 40,000 households performed by the Better Hearing Institute, hearing loss was shown to adversely influence household income by as much as $12,000 annually, dependent on the degree of hearing loss.5 individuals who wore hearing aids, however, reduced this impact by 50%.
The capacity to communicate in the workplace is vital to job performance and promotion. In fact, communication skills are regularly 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
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 as time goes by, and we end up losing strength. It’s only through exercise and repeated use that we can recoup our physical strength.
The the exact same phenomenon applies to hearing: as our hearing deteriorates, we get caught in a descending spiral that only gets worse. This is referred to as auditory deprivation, and a ever-increasing body of research is confirming the “hearing atrophy” that can develop with hearing loss.
7. Underlying medical conditions
Even though the most common cause of hearing loss is connected to age and frequent direct exposure to loud noise, hearing loss is sometimes the symptom of a more significant, underlying medical condition. Potential ailments include:
- Heart disease, high blood pressure, and diabetes
- Otosclerosis – the solidifying 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 issues
Owing to the severity of some of the conditions, it is necessary that any hearing loss is promptly evaluated.
8. Higher risk of falls
Research has unveiled multitude of connections between hearing loss and serious disorders like dementia, Alzheimer’s disease, depression, and anxiety. A further study carried out by specialists at Johns Hopkins University has found yet another disheartening link: the link between hearing loss and the risk of falls.6
The study shows that individuals with a 25-decibel hearing loss, labeled as mild, were almost three times more likely to have a record 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 encouraging side to all of this pessimistic research is the suggestion that maintaining or repairing your hearing can help to lessen or eliminate these risks entirely. For all those that have normal hearing, it is more vital than ever to look after it. And for everyone struggling with hearing loss, it’s crucial to seek the services of a hearing specialist right away.