Are you taken aback to learn that hearing loss is more than just your ears? Ears are the tools of hearing, so the damage done to them because of aging, injury or illness is why someone can’t hear, but did you know there’s more to it than the loss of one’s hearing bleeds into many other facets of their life. It’s a dramatic change for somebody who has always had the ability to hear. Consider some ways that hearing loss has a significant impact on more than just the ears.
A 2006 report published by the Australian company Access Economics states there’s a link between salary potential and hearing. They found that an individual with hearing loss could potentially make about 25 percent less than the ones that do listen, but why?
There are a lot of things that could impact earnings. Somebody who works without any hearing assistance device such as a hearing aid may miss out on weighty information. They may appear for a company meeting at 4 if it was really at 2 pm, for example. Managers tend to appreciate those with keen attention to detail, and that’s a challenge when you can’t hear the details.
Working environments can be loud and crazy, too. A person with hearing loss can quickly become confused with that sound around them. They’ll struggle to talk on the phone, to listen to clients and to understand what colleagues are saying because in a noisy environment the background sounds like clacking keyboards or an air conditioner vent become pronounced.
Some of the same problems at work become an issue at home. Hearing loss has the potential to cause conflict, especially when the individual with the problem continues to deny it. Little things like saying “what” a lot during conversations and turning the TV up too loud irritate friends, family members, and spouses.
They may attempt to intervene and encourage this person to recognize their hearing loss, which leads to friction, as well. It is very common for someone with hearing loss to isolate themselves and refuse to go out and spend time with other people. They struggle to keep up with conversations, so that they so what the can to prevent them.
Mental Health Concerns
The issues at work and home take a toll on mental health over time. A 2014 study performed by the U.S. National Institute on Deafness and Other Communication Disorders discovered a cause and effect relationship between hearing loss and depression. Their study indicates an increased risk of depression, particularly among women and people under the age of 70. Their risk of depression goes from 5 percent to approximately 11 percent with hearing loss.
A second study by the Senior Research Group indicates that the risk of mental health problems including depression, anxiety and paranoia goes up when a person with hearing loss does not use hearing aids. The study participants who didn’t wear hearing aids reported everything from feelings of despair to sudden fits of anger more frequently than those who did wear them.
Safety is always an issue for the hearing impaired. Most security systems, whether it is a smoke or carbon monoxide detector or a perimeter alarm, work based on noise. They emit a high-frequency noise if there’s a danger. Even people with slight hearing loss can have difficulty hearing high pitched tones.
Personal security becomes an issue when a person with hearing loss crosses the street or drives a car, too. Sound serves to signal problems like a car coming down the street or a horn honking.
Medical science has made a connection between cognitive decline and hearing loss. It isn’t clear why people with hearing loss have a greater risk of dementia. The current theory is that the brain struggles to listen and to compensate, it robs other vital functions like short-term memory.
A 2011 study conducted by Johns Hopkins Medicine discovered that a person with minor hearing loss is twice as likely to develop dementia. Moderate hearing loss increases the risk by three times and a person with severe hearing impairment is five times more likely to get Alzheimer’s disease and other types of dementia. Hearing health is just one factor in memory loss conditions, but it is an important one.
When a person has hearing loss, it is true there’s probably something wrong with their ears, but that’s just where it starts. The good news is that getting help in the form of hearing aids and other treatment choices lowers the chance of mental health issues, dementia and the various issues associated with hearing decline.