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Though hearing loss is a pervasive health condition people experience today, impacting nearly 48 million people, it is often underdiagnosed. On average, people wait seven years before seeking treatment for their hearing loss. There are various reasons people delay addressing their hearing loss – they think it’s not serious enough, haven’t noticed changes to their hearing, and acknowledging health changes can be difficult. But putting off treatment can have significant consequences on health. Untreated hearing loss can have major social, psychological, and cognitive health effects that strain quality of life.
Health Risks of Untreated Hearing Loss
Vast research shows that untreated hearing loss can take a toll on emotional, physical, and brain health. A few risks of not treating hearing loss include the following:
- Cognitive Decline: Numerous studies highlight a link between untreated hearing loss and cognitive decline. Hearing loss not only happens in the ears but also in the brain which plays a critical role in processing and understanding sound. So when hearing loss is present and untreated, these areas of the brain become inactive and their cognitive capacity is reduced. A 2019 study found that cognitive decline was 54% higher among people with severe hearing loss (compared to people without the condition). This shows that they were more than twice as likely to experience cognitive decline.
- Accidental Injuries: Untreated hearing loss also increases the risk of experiencing accidental injuries. Studies show that people with hearing loss were 3 times more likely to have a history of falling. This makes accidental injuries more likely, impacting physical safety and mobility. Untreated hearing loss reduces one’s ability to hear speech and sound. This could lead to difficulties hearing warning sounds or other activities happening in the environment, decreasing spatial awareness.
- Depression: One of the most common effects of hearing loss is social withdrawal. Hearing loss symptoms make having conversations difficult and unpleasant which can lead to people avoiding them altogether. This means spending less time with family and friends, skipping out on social events, and not participating in social activities. This can strain relationships, produces loneliness, and contributes to depression. A study published in 2015, found that moderate to severe depression were more than twice as likely among people with hearing loss compared to those without it.
The impact of strained hearing and communication can profoundly affect all facets of life – relationships, social engagement, health, etc. Delaying treatment can worsen impairment, exacerbating these effects which are why seeking treatment as early as possible is critical!
Benefits of Hearing Aids
Fortunately, there are effective ways that hearing loss is treated. The most common treatment is hearing aids – medical devices that help detect and process sound. This provides tremendous hearing support, maximizing an individual’s hearing capacity. Hearing aids alleviate symptoms, allowing people to navigate conversations and daily communication with greater clarity and ease. This offers countless benefits including:
- Strengthening communication: with hearing aids, people can hear sounds they likely haven’t heard in quite some time. Increased ability to hear enables hearing aid wearers to have more access to conversations and environments that are part of daily life. People are better able to hear, respond, and share their thoughts; allowing people to be more present and participate fully in interactions with others.
- Enhancing relationships: effective communication is necessary for sustaining relationships. untreated hearing loss often strains relationships by making conversations and communication challenging. This can produce tension and frustration which creates distance. Hearing aids provide ample hearing support, facilitating effective communication which helps people spend quality time with others.
- Improving overall health: treating hearing loss improves health in several ways. Hearing aids strengthen cognitive functions by providing the auditory system with critical support. In addition to improving brain health, hearing aids also reduce other health risks including depression and accidental injuries.
Treating hearing loss offers life-changing benefits that transform the quality of life. Seeking treatment and intervening as early as possible, can significantly help your transition into better hearing health.
Prioritize Your Hearing Health
Addressing hearing loss starts with one simple step: scheduling an appointment for a hearing test. Hearing tests involve a painless process that establishes your hearing needs. We are invested in providing treatment options to effectively meet your hearing needs and enhance your quality of life. Call us today to get started!