Impacts of Untreated Hearing Loss
Approximately one in three Americans age 65 and over live with hearing loss. But hearing loss doesn’t just affect seniors. In school-aged children, 30 out of every 1000 are hearing impaired. In adults, hearing loss can contribute to cognitive decline, isolation and depression. For children, hearing loss makes language, speech and educational development a challenge. Unfortunately, most adults live with hearing loss for an average of seven years before seeking help. If you think you or a family member has hearing loss, don’t put off diagnostic testing.
Emotional health and hearing loss
Your ability to hear and your emotional health are related. Those that live with untreated hearing loss are at an increased risk for depression. They also live with higher levels of stress and anxiety. When hearing and understanding speech is difficult, you may withdraw and become isolated because it’s easier to disconnect than struggle to hear.
When it’s hard to hear in a group setting, you don’t attend and participate in group gatherings. The prospect of giving a presentation at work or attending a large meeting may make you anxious. In addition, studies show that untreated hearing loss can lead to:
- Irritability, negativism and anger
- Fatigue, tension, stress and depression
- Social rejection
- Reduced alertness and increased risk to personal safety
- Cognitive decline
Studies by John Hopkins and the National Institute of Aging found that seniors with untreated hearing loss are at a greater risk for dementia. While the link for the two conditions has not been established, there are several theories.
First, untreated hearing loss can lead to social isolation. Social isolation has proven to increase the risk for dementia and cognitive decline. Secondly, when the brain struggles to process decreased auditory input a cognitive overload may occur. When all cognitive effort is focused on hearing, other areas suffer.
Wearing hearing aids increases auditory input, reduces social isolation and can help stave off dementia.
Untreated hearing loss increases risk for bodily injury and hospitalization. Simply walking down the street is more dangerous if you cannot hear and locate the source of sounds around you. Driving is more dangerous when you can’t hear traffic.
At Gavin Audiology and Hearing Aids, we understand the impacts untreated hearing loss can have on your quality of life, as well as your physical and emotional wellbeing. Talk to one of our professionals to determine if you could benefit from hearing loss treatment.