Hearing damage is treacherously sneaky. It creeps up on an individual through the years so slowly you hardly notice, making it easy to deny or ignore. And then, when you finally acknowledge the signs and symptoms, you shrug it off as bothersome and annoying because its true consequences are hidden.
For approximately 48 million Americans that say they experience some degree of hearing loss, the effects are considerably greater than merely inconvenience and frustration.1 listed below are 8 reasons why untreated hearing loss is considerably more dangerous than you may think:
1. Connection to Dementia and Alzheimer’s disease
An investigation from Johns Hopkins University and the National Institute on Aging indicates that individuals with hearing loss are appreciably more likely to suffer from dementia, including Alzheimer’s disease, in contrast with people who retain their hearing.2
While the reason for the connection is ultimately undetermined, experts believe that hearing loss and dementia could possibly share a common pathology, or that decades of stressing the brain to hear could bring about harm. A different hypothesis is that hearing loss many times results in social separation — a top risk factor for dementia.
Regardless of the cause, recovering hearing might be the best prevention, which includes 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 found a strong relation between hearing loss and depression among U.S. adults of all ages and races.3
3. Not hearing alerts to danger
Car horns, ambulance and police sirens, and fire alarms all are formulated to warn you to possible dangers. If you miss out on these signals, you put yourself at an increased risk of injury.
4. Memory impairment and mental decline
Findings reveal that individuals with hearing loss witness a 40% higher rate of decline in cognitive function when compared to people with regular hearing.4 The leading author of the research, 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 the reason why growing awareness as to the link between hearing loss and cognitive decline is Dr. Lin’s leading concern.
5. Lower household income
In a study of more than 40,000 households conducted by the Better Hearing Institute, hearing loss was shown to adversely affect household income by as much as $12,000 annually, dependent on the amount of hearing loss.5 individuals who wore hearing aids, however, limited this impact by 50%.
The capacity to communicate at work is vital to job performance and promotion. The fact is, communication skills are constantly ranked as the number one job-related skill-set most wished for by managers and the leading factor for promotion.
6. Auditory deprivation – use it or lose it
In regard to the human body, “use it or lose it” is a mantra to live by. As an example, if we don’t use our muscles, they atrophy or shrink as time goes by, and we end up losing strength. It’s only through working out and repetitive use that we can reclaim our physical strength.
The same phenomenon pertains to hearing: as our hearing weakens, we get trapped in a downward spiral that only gets worse. This is recognized as auditory deprivation, and a expanding body of research is strengthening the “hearing atrophy” that can take place with hearing loss.
7. Underlying medical conditions
Even though the most common cause of hearing loss is associated with age and consistent direct exposure to loud noise, hearing loss is once in a while the symptom of a more significant, 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 disorder 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
On account of the severity of some of the ailments, it is important that any hearing loss is rapidly examined.
8. Higher risk of falls
Research has discovered multitude of connections between hearing loss and dangerous conditions like dementia, Alzheimer’s disease, depression, and anxiety. A further study conducted by specialists at Johns Hopkins University has found yet another disheartening connection: the link between hearing loss and the risk of falls.6
The study shows that people with a 25-decibel hearing loss, labeled as mild, were roughly three times more likely to have a record of falling. And for every additional 10-decibels of hearing loss, the chances of falling increased by 1.4 times.
Don’t wait to get your hearing tested
The optimistic part to all of this negative research is the suggestion that preserving or repairing your hearing can help to minimize or eliminate these risks completely. For those of you that now have normal hearing, it is more important than ever to take care of it. And for those of you suffering with hearing loss, it’s imperative to seek the help of a hearing specialist right away.