Hearing loss is treacherously sneaky. It creeps up on you through the years so little by little you barely become aware of it , making it easy to deny or ignore. And then, when you at last recognize the symptoms, you shrug it off as inconvenient and irritating as its most harmful consequences are hidden.
For a staggering 48 million Us citizens that claim some measure of hearing loss, the consequences are far greater than simply inconvenience and frustration.1 The Following Are 8 reasons why untreated hearing loss is significantly more dangerous than you might believe:
1. Connection to Dementia and Alzheimer’s disease
An investigation from Johns Hopkins University and the National Institute on Aging suggests that people with hearing loss are considerably more likely to suffer from dementia, including Alzheimer’s disease, when compared with individuals who preserve their hearing.2
Although the cause for the connection is ultimately unknown, scientists think that hearing loss and dementia might share a common pathology, or that several years of straining the brain to hear could create damage. An additional theory is that hearing loss often times results in social isolation — a main risk factor for dementia.
Regardless of the cause, recovering hearing may be the optimum prevention, including the use of hearing aids.
2. Depression and social isolation
Researchers from the National Institute on Deafness and Other Communication Disorders (NIDCD), part of the National Institutes of Health, have shown a strong connection between hearing impairment and depression among American 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 developed to notify you to potential danger. If you miss out on these alerts, you put yourself at an heightened risk of injury.
4. Memory impairment and mental decline
Studies show that individuals with hearing loss encounter a 40% greater rate of decline in cognitive function compared to individuals with healthy hearing.4 The leading 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 is why growing awareness as to the link between hearing loss and cognitive decline is Dr. Lin’s highest priority.
5. Lowered household income
In a study of over 40,000 households performed by the Better Hearing Institute, hearing loss was shown to adversely influence household income by as much as $12,000 annually, dependent on the level of hearing loss.5 individuals who wore hearing aids, however, minimized this impact by 50%.
The ability to communicate in the workplace is vital to job performance and promotion. The fact is, communication skills are repeatedly ranked as the number one job-related skill-set coveted by managers and the top factor for promotion.
6. Auditory deprivation – use it or lose it
When considering the human body, “use it or lose it” is a saying to live by. For 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 activity and repeated use that we can recover our physical strength.
The same phenomenon applies to hearing: as our hearing weakens, we get caught in a downward spiral that only gets worse. This is often referred to as auditory deprivation, and a fast growing body of research is confirming the “hearing atrophy” that can appear with hearing loss.
7. Underlying medical conditions
Despite the fact that the most common cause of hearing loss is related to age and consistent exposure to loud noise, hearing loss is occasionally 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 disease 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
As a result of the seriousness of some of the ailments, it is recommended that any hearing loss is quickly evaluated.
8. Greater risk of falls
Research has exposed a large number of links between hearing loss and dangerous conditions like dementia, Alzheimer’s disease, depression, and anxiety. A further study carried out by researchers at Johns Hopkins University has discovered still another disheartening connection: the connection between hearing loss and the risk of falls.6
The research shows that individuals with a 25-decibel hearing loss, labeled as mild, were close to three times more likely to have a history of falling. And for every extra 10-decibels of hearing loss, the chances of falling increased by 1.4 times.
Don’t wait to get your hearing tested
The favorable side to all of this negative research is the suggestion that protecting or recovering your hearing can help to lower or eliminate these risks completely. For those of you that have normal hearing, it is more crucial than ever to protect it. And for the people suffering with hearing loss, it’s vital to seek the services 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