Hearing impairment is dangerously sneaky. It creeps up on an individual over the years so gradually you hardly notice, making it all too easy to deny it’s even there. And then, when you finally recognize the signs and symptoms, you shrug it off as inconvenient and irritating because its worst consequences are hidden.
For approximately 48 million American citizens that report some level of hearing loss, the effects are substantially greater than only aggravation and frustration.1 listed here are 8 reasons why untreated hearing loss is a great deal more dangerous than you may imagine:
1. Link to Dementia and Alzheimer’s disease
An investigation from Johns Hopkins University and the National Institute on Aging indicates that people with hearing loss are significantly more susceptible to develop dementia, including Alzheimer’s disease, when compared with individuals who maintain their ability to hear.2
Although the explanation for the connection is ultimately undetermined, researchers suppose that hearing loss and dementia could possibly share a shared pathology, or that a long time of stressing the brain to hear could result in damage. An additional theory is that hearing loss very often leads to social separation — a primary risk factor for dementia.
Irrespective of the cause, repairing 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 detected a strong link 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 engineered to warn you to possible hazards. If you miss out on these indicators, you place yourself at an heightened risk of injury.
4. Memory impairment and mental decline
Studies indicate that individuals with hearing loss suffer from a 40% larger rate of decrease in cognitive function in contrast to those with healthy hearing.4 The leading author of the report, Frank R. Lin, MD, PhD, of Johns Hopkins University, stated 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 raising awareness as to the link between hearing loss and cognitive decline is Dr. Lin’s top priority.
5. Lowered household income
In a study of over 40,000 households carried out by the Better Hearing Institute, hearing loss was revealed to negatively impact household income up to $12,000 annually, dependent on the measure of hearing loss.5 Those who used hearing aids, however, reduced this impact by 50%.
The capacity to communicate on the job is essential to job performance and promotion. In fact, communication skills are persistently ranked as the top job-related skill-set requested 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 instance, 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 exercise and repeated use that we can reclaim our physical strength.
The the exact same phenomenon pertains to hearing: as our hearing weakens, we get ensnared in a descending spiral that only gets worse. This is recognized as auditory deprivation, and a multiplying body of research is confirming the “hearing atrophy” that can happen with hearing loss.
7. Underlying medical conditions
Even though the most common cause of hearing loss is connected to age and regular direct exposure to loud noise, hearing loss is in some cases the symptom of a more severe, underlying medical condition. Possible conditions 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 blockages from foreign objects
- Medications – there are more than 200 medications and chemicals that are known to cause hearing and balance problems
Because of the severity of some of the ailments, it is vital that any hearing loss is promptly assessed.
8. Greater risk of falls
Research has discovered various connections between hearing loss and serious conditions like dementia, Alzheimer’s disease, depression, and anxiety. A further study conducted by investigators at Johns Hopkins University has found yet another disheartening connection: the link 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 track record of falling. And for every added 10-decibels of hearing loss, the likelihood 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 protecting or recovering your hearing can help to lessen or eliminate these risks entirely. For the people that now have normal hearing, it is more critical than ever to look after it. And for those struggling with hearing loss, it’s imperative to seek the help of a hearing specialist as soon as possible.