Hearing loss is treacherously sneaky. It creeps up on a person over the years so slowly you barely become aware of it , making it easy to deny or ignore. And afterwards, when you at last acknowledge the symptoms, you shrug it off as troublesome and irritating because its most detrimental consequences are hidden.
For close to 48 million Americans that say they experience some extent of hearing loss, the consequences are substantially greater than only annoyance and frustration.1 listed here 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 shows that those with hearing loss are appreciably more likely to develop dementia, including Alzheimer’s disease, compared with those who sustain their hearing.2
Even though the cause for the link is ultimately unknown, experts think that hearing loss and dementia may share a common pathology, or that years and years of stressing the brain to hear could bring on harm. An additional hypothesis is that hearing loss many times leads to social separation — a chief risk factor for dementia.
No matter what the cause, recovering hearing could very well 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 found a strong connection between hearing loss and depression among American adults of all ages and races.3
3. Not hearing alerts to danger
Automobile horns, ambulance and law enforcement sirens, and fire alarms all are specifically created to warn you to possible dangers. If you miss these alerts, you place yourself at an heightened risk of injury.
4. Memory impairment and mental decline
Reports show that individuals with hearing loss experience a 40% higher rate of decrease in cognitive performance in comparison to people with normal hearing.4 The top author of the report, 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’s why growing awareness as to the link between hearing loss and cognitive decline is Dr. Lin’s leading concern.
5. Lowered household income
In a survey of over 40,000 households performed by the Better Hearing Institute, hearing loss was discovered to adversely influence household income by as much as $12,000 annually, dependent on the level of hearing loss.5 individuals who used hearing aids, however, decreased this impact by 50%.
The capacity to communicate in the workplace is essential to job performance and advancement. The fact is, communication skills are repeatedly ranked as the top job-related skill-set requested by employers and the leading factor for promotion.
6. Auditory deprivation – use it or lose it
In regard to the human body, “use it or lose it” is a mantra to live by. As an example, if we don’t make use of our muscles, they atrophy or reduce in size as time goes by, and we end up losing strength. It’s only through physical exercise and repeated use that we can reclaim our physical strength.
The the exact same phenomenon is applicable to hearing: as our hearing weakens, we get trapped in a downward spiral that only gets worse. This is known as auditory deprivation, and a developing body of research is validating the “hearing atrophy” that can come about with hearing loss.
7. Underlying medical conditions
While the most common cause of hearing loss is associated with age and persistent exposure to loud noise, hearing loss is on occasion the symptom of a more serious, underlying medical condition. Potential conditions include:
- Heart disease, high blood pressure, and diabetes
- Otosclerosis – the hardening of the middle ear bones
- Ménière’s disease – a condition 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 conditions, it is imperative that any hearing loss is rapidly evaluated.
8. Increased risk of falls
Research has found a large number of links between hearing loss and serious disorders like dementia, Alzheimer’s disease, depression, and anxiety. A further study conducted by researchers at Johns Hopkins University has revealed yet another discouraging link: the link between hearing loss and the risk of falls.6
The research indicates that individuals with a 25-decibel hearing loss, classified as mild, were roughly 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 part to all of this pessimistic research is the suggestion that maintaining or repairing your hearing can help to decrease or eliminate these risks entirely. For all those that have normal hearing, it is more important than ever to protect it. And for those of you suffering with hearing loss, it’s vital to seek the help of a hearing specialist immediately.
- 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