Hearing impairment is dangerously sneaky. It creeps up on an individual over the years so gradually you hardly notice, making it easy to deny or ignore. And afterwards, when you finally recognize the signs and symptoms, you shrug it off as inconvenient and irritating because its true consequences are hidden.
For as much as 48 million Us citizens that report some amount of hearing loss, the consequences are much greater than simply irritation and frustration.1 Here are 8 reasons why untreated hearing loss is far more dangerous than you may assume:
1. Link to Dementia and Alzheimer’s disease
An investigation from Johns Hopkins University and the National Institute on Aging reveals that people with hearing loss are considerably more liable to suffer from dementia, including Alzheimer’s disease, in contrast with those who maintain their hearing.2
While the cause for the link is ultimately unknown, scientists suppose that hearing loss and dementia may share a common pathology, or that a long time of straining the brain to hear could produce damage. Another explanation is that hearing loss frequently results in social isolation — a top risk factor for dementia.
No matter what the cause, repairing hearing might be the optimum prevention, including the use of hearing aids.
2. Depression and social isolation
Scientists from the National Institute on Deafness and Other Communication Disorders (NIDCD), part of the National Institutes of Health, have found a strong link between hearing loss and depression among U.S. 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 notify you to potential hazards. If you miss out on these types of signals, you put yourself at an higher risk of injury.
4. Memory impairment and mental decline
Studies suggest that adults with hearing loss experience a 40% greater rate of decline in cognitive performance when compared to individuals with healthy hearing.4 The top author of the investigation, 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 is the reason why increasing awareness as to the link between hearing loss and cognitive decline is Dr. Lin’s highest priority.
5. Lower household income
In a review of over 40,000 households carried out by the Better Hearing Institute, hearing loss was shown to negatively influence household income by as much as $12,000 annually, depending on the degree of hearing loss.5 Those who wore hearing aids, however, cut this impact by 50%.
The ability to communicate on the job is crucial to job performance and advancement. The fact is, communication skills are without fail ranked as the number one job-related skill-set coveted by recruiters 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 saying to live by. As an example, if we don’t make use of our muscles, they atrophy or reduce in size with time, and we end up losing strength. It’s only through physical exertion and repetitive use that we can reclaim our physical strength.
The the exact same phenomenon pertains to hearing: as our hearing degrades, we get ensnared in a downward spiral that only gets worse. This is identified as auditory deprivation, and a ever-increasing body of research is confirming the “hearing atrophy” that can manifest with hearing loss.
7. Underlying medical conditions
Although the most common cause of hearing loss is connected to age and regular direct exposure to loud sound, hearing loss is occasionally the symptom of a more serious, underlying medical condition. Possible ailments include:
- Cardiovascular disease, high blood pressure, and diabetes
- Otosclerosis – the hardening of the middle ear bones
- Ménière’s disease – a disorder 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
Due to the seriousness of some of the ailments, it is vital that any hearing loss is quickly evaluated.
8. Greater risk of falls
Research has unveiled a variety of links between hearing loss and serious conditions like dementia, Alzheimer’s disease, depression, and anxiety. A further study carried out by investigators at Johns Hopkins University has found yet another disheartening link: the link between hearing loss and the risk of falls.6
The study reveals that people with a 25-decibel hearing loss, labeled as mild, were approximately three times more likely to have a track record of falling. And for every extra 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 preserving or repairing your hearing can help to diminish or eliminate these risks entirely. For those of you that now have normal hearing, it is more vital than ever to take care of it. And for the people suffering with hearing loss, it’s vital to seek the services of a hearing specialist without delay.
- 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