Hearing deficit is hazardously sneaky. It creeps up on an individual through the years so gradually you scarcely become aware of it , making it easy to deny or ignore. And then, when you at last acknowledge the signs and symptoms, you shrug it off as inconvenient and irritating because its most unfortunate consequences are hidden.
For around 48 million American citizens that report some measure of hearing loss, the repercussions are much greater than merely irritation and frustration.1 Here are 8 reasons why untreated hearing loss is considerably more dangerous than you might think:
1. Connection to Dementia and Alzheimer’s disease
A report from Johns Hopkins University and the National Institute on Aging shows that those with hearing loss are considerably more susceptible to develop dementia, including Alzheimer’s disease, in comparison with those who retain their hearing.2
Although the explanation for the association is ultimately undetermined, experts suppose that hearing loss and dementia could possibly share a mutual pathology, or that numerous years of stressing the brain to hear could result in harm. A different theory is that hearing loss quite often results in social separation — a major risk factor for dementia.
Irrespective of the cause, restoring hearing may 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 discovered a strong relationship between hearing damage 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 created to notify you to possible dangers. If you miss out on these signals, you place yourself at an higher risk of injury.
4. Memory impairment and mental decline
Studies suggest that adults with hearing loss face a 40% larger rate of decrease in cognitive function in comparison to those with regular hearing.4 The main 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 why growing awareness as to the connection between hearing loss and cognitive decline is Dr. Lin’s leading concern.
5. Reduced household income
In a review of more than 40,000 households conducted by the Better Hearing Institute, hearing loss was shown to negatively affect household income up to $12,000 annually, depending on the measure of hearing loss.5 individuals who wore hearing aids, however, cut this impact by 50%.
The ability to communicate at work is essential to job performance and promotion. In fact, communication skills are perpetually ranked as the number one job-related skill-set desired 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 mantra to live by. For example, if we don’t make use of our muscles, they atrophy or shrink with time, and we end up losing strength. It’s only through working out and repeated use that we can recoup our physical strength.
The equivalent phenomenon is true to hearing: as our hearing weakens, we get stuck in a downward spiral that only gets worse. This is known as auditory deprivation, and a fast growing body of research is validating the “hearing atrophy” that can manifest with hearing loss.
7. Underlying medical conditions
Despite the fact that the most common cause of hearing loss is connected to age and persistent direct exposure to loud sound, hearing loss is in some cases the symptom of a more serious, underlying medical condition. Potential ailments include:
- Cardiovascular 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 obstructions from foreign objects
- Medications – there are more than 200 medications and chemicals that are known to cause hearing and balance problems
Due to the seriousness of some of the ailments, it is important that any hearing loss is rapidly assessed.
8. Higher risk of falls
Research has unveiled many connections between hearing loss and serious diseases like dementia, Alzheimer’s disease, depression, and anxiety. A further study carried out by researchers at Johns Hopkins University has revealed yet another discouraging connection: the connection between hearing loss and the risk of falls.6
The study suggests that individuals with a 25-decibel hearing loss, categorized as mild, were nearly three times more likely to have a history of falling. And for every extra 10-decibels of hearing loss, the likelihood 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 protecting or repairing your hearing can help to minimize or eliminate these risks entirely. For individuals that have normal hearing, it is more critical than ever to take care of it. And for those suffering with hearing loss, it’s imperative to seek the help 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