The thing about hearing loss is that it’s easy to just ignore. You can deny it for many years, compensating for poor hearing by turning up the volume on your TV or phone and pressuring people to repeat themselves.
But apart from the tension this places on relationships, there are additional, hidden consequences of untreated hearing loss that are not as noticeable but more concerning.
Here are six potential consequences of untreated hearing loss.
1. Missing out
Hearing loss can cause you to lose out on important conversations and common sounds like birds chirping or the sound of rain on the rooftop. Ordinary household sounds continue to fade as your personal world of sound narrows.
2. Anxiety and depression
A study by the National Council on the Aging found that those with untreated hearing loss age 50 and older were more likely to report depression, anxiety, and paranoia and were less sociable in comparison to people who used hearing aids.
Hearing loss can bring about impaired relationships, stress and anxiety, social isolation, and ultimately depression. Hearing loss can be stressful and embarrassing and can have considerable emotional effects.
3. Cognitive decline
Hearing loss can affect your thinking and memory. Johns Hopkins Medicine found that those with hearing loss suffered rates of cognitive decline 30-40 percent faster than individuals with normal hearing.
The rate of decline is dependent upon the seriousness of hearing loss, but on average, those with hearing loss developed drastic impairment in cognitive ability 3.2 years faster than those with normal hearing.
4. Listening fatigue
Listening requires effort, and when you fight to hear specific words or have to constantly fill in the blanks, the additional effort is tiring. Individuals with hearing loss describe higher levels of fatigue at the end of the day, especially after extended conferences or group activities.
5. Diminished work performance
The Better Hearing Institute found that, based on a survey of more than 40,000 households, hearing loss adversely affected annual household income by an average of as much as $12,000. The economic impact was directly related to the level of hearing loss.
The findings make sense. Hearing loss can lead to communication problems and mistakes at work, limiting productivity, promotions, and in some instances taking people out of the marketplace.
6. Safety considerations
Individuals with hearing loss can fail to hear alarm systems, sirens, or other alerts to potentially threatening circumstances. They’re also more likely to have a history of falling.
According to a study from Johns Hopkins University, hearing loss has been associated with an increased risk of falling. Those with mild hearing loss were just about three times more likely to have a history of falling and the likelihood of falling increased as hearing loss became worse.
The truth is hearing loss is not just a minor annoyance—it has a variety of physical, mental, and social effects that can substantially decrease an individual’s all-around quality of life. But the good news is that it’s almost all preventable.
All of the consequences we just reviewed are the product of reduced sound stimulation to the brain. Modern hearing aids, while not able to restore hearing completely to normal, nevertheless can give you the amplification necessary to prevent most or all of these consequences.
That’s why the majority of patients are pleased with their hearing aid’s overall performance. It enables them to effortlessly understand speech, hear without continuously struggling, and take pleasure in the sounds they’ve been missing for many years.
Don’t risk the consequences—try out the new technology and see for yourself how your life can improve.