Hearing damage is treacherously sneaky. It creeps up on an individual over the years so gradually you scarcely detect it, making it all too easy to deny it’s even there. And afterwards, when you eventually recognize the symptoms, you shrug it off as inconvenient and annoying because its most unfortunate consequences are hidden.
For approximately 48 million Us citizens that report some measure of hearing loss, the repercussions are substantially greater than merely annoyance and frustration.1 listed here are 8 reasons why untreated hearing loss is much more dangerous than you may assume:
1. Link to Dementia and Alzheimer’s disease
A report from Johns Hopkins University and the National Institute on Aging reveals that individuals with hearing loss are significantly more liable to develop dementia, including Alzheimer’s disease, in comparison with those who sustain their ability to hear.2
Although the cause for the association is ultimately unknown, scientists think that hearing loss and dementia could possibly share a common pathology, or that numerous years of stressing the brain to hear could create damage. Another hypothesis is that hearing loss often causes social seclusion — a prominent risk factor for dementia.
Regardless of the cause, repairing hearing may very well 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 observed a strong association between hearing loss and depression among U.S. adults of all ages and races.3
3. Not hearing alerts to danger
Automobile horns, ambulance and law enforcement sirens, and fire alarms all are created to notify 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 suggest that adults with hearing loss see a 40% higher rate of decline in cognitive ability when compared to those with healthy 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 why increasing awareness as to the connection between hearing loss and cognitive decline is Dr. Lin’s top concern.
5. Lower household income
In a review of over 40,000 households carried out by the Better Hearing Institute, hearing loss was revealed to adversely impact household income by as much as $12,000 annually, depending on the extent of hearing loss.5 Those who wore hearing aids, however, limited this impact by 50%.
The ability to communicate on the job is essential to job performance and promotion. The fact is, communication skills are again and again ranked as the number one job-related skill-set coveted by recruiters and the top factor for promotion.
6. Auditory deprivation – use it or lose it
In regard to the human body, “use it or lose it” is a motto to live by. For instance, if we don’t use our muscles, they atrophy or shrink as time passes, and we end up losing strength. It’s only through working out and repetitive use that we can recover our physical strength.
The equivalent phenomenon applies to hearing: as our hearing deteriorates, we get ensnared in a downward spiral that only gets worse. This is often referred to as auditory deprivation, and a continuously growing body of research is validating the “hearing atrophy” that can happen with hearing loss.
7. Underlying medical conditions
Although the most common cause of hearing loss is connected to age and repeated direct exposure to loud noise, hearing loss is from time to time the symptom of a more severe, underlying medical condition. Possible ailments include:
- Heart 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 blockages from foreign objects
- Medications – there are more than 200 medications and chemicals that are known to cause hearing and balance issues
As a result of the seriousness of some of the conditions, it is crucial that any hearing loss is immediately examined.
8. Higher risk of falls
Research has found a number of connections between hearing loss and dangerous conditions like dementia, Alzheimer’s disease, depression, and anxiety. An additional study conducted by scientists at Johns Hopkins University has discovered still another discouraging connection: the link between hearing loss and the risk of falls.6
The research reveals that people with a 25-decibel hearing loss, labeled as mild, were almost three times more likely to have a track 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 encouraging side to all of this pessimistic research is the suggestion that maintaining or recovering your hearing can help to decrease or eliminate these risks completely. For individuals that have normal hearing, it is more vital than ever to look after it. And for anyone suffering with hearing loss, it’s vital to seek the help 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