Hearing impairment is dangerously sneaky. It creeps up on an individual over the years so slowly you hardly become aware of it , making it all too easy to deny it’s even there. And afterwards, when you finally recognize the signs and symptoms, you shrug it off as troublesome and aggravating because its true effects are hidden.
For a staggering 48 million American citizens that report some degree of hearing loss, the effects are significantly greater than only inconvenience and frustration.1 The Following Are 8 reasons why untreated hearing loss is much more dangerous than you may think:
1. Connection to Dementia and Alzheimer’s disease
A report from Johns Hopkins University and the National Institute on Aging shows that those with hearing loss are substantially more liable to develop dementia, including Alzheimer’s disease, when compared with individuals who sustain their hearing.2
Whereas the reason for the connection is ultimately unknown, researchers sense that hearing loss and dementia may share a common pathology, or that years of straining the brain to hear could bring on damage. Another theory is that hearing loss very often leads to social isolation — a dominant risk factor for dementia.
Regardless of the cause, recovering hearing may be the optimum prevention, including the use of hearing aids.
2. Depression and social isolation
Investigators from the National Institute on Deafness and Other Communication Disorders (NIDCD), part of the National Institutes of Health, have discovered a strong relationship between hearing loss and depression among American 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 notify you to potential danger. If you miss out on these indicators, you place yourself at an elevated risk of injury.
4. Memory impairment and mental decline
Investigations suggest that adults with hearing loss endure a 40% larger rate of decrease in cognitive function in comparison 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 raising awareness as to the link between hearing loss and cognitive decline is Dr. Lin’s foremost priority.
5. Reduced household income
In a study of over 40,000 households conducted by the Better Hearing Institute, hearing loss was found to adversely influence household income by as much as $12,000 annually, based on the amount of hearing loss.5 individuals who used hearing aids, however, reduced this impact by 50%.
The ability to communicate at work is critical to job performance and promotion. The fact is, communication skills are always ranked as the top job-related skill-set sought after by managers 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 mantra to live by. For instance, if we don’t use our muscles, they atrophy or shrink over the years, and we end up losing strength. It’s only through physical exertion and repetitive use that we can reclaim our physical strength.
The same phenomenon pertains to hearing: as our hearing deteriorates, we get caught in a descending spiral that only gets worse. This is recognized as auditory deprivation, and a growing body of research is validating the “hearing atrophy” that can happen with hearing loss.
7. Underlying medical conditions
While the most common cause of hearing loss is related to age and consistent direct exposure to loud sound, hearing loss is at times the symptom of a more significant, underlying medical condition. Possible ailments include:
- Heart disease, high blood pressure, and diabetes
- Otosclerosis – the solidifying 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
As a consequence of the severity of some of the ailments, it is necessary that any hearing loss is immediately assessed.
8. Higher risk of falls
Research has revealed a large number of connections between hearing loss and serious disorders like dementia, Alzheimer’s disease, depression, and anxiety. An additional study carried out by investigators at Johns Hopkins University has discovered yet another disheartening link: the link between hearing loss and the risk of falls.6
The study shows that individuals with a 25-decibel hearing loss, characterized as mild, were almost three times more likely to have a record of falling. And for every extra 10-decibels of hearing loss, the chances of falling increased by 1.4 times.
Don’t wait to get your hearing tested
The positive side to all of this negative research is the suggestion that sustaining or repairing your hearing can help to minimize or eliminate these risks completely. For the people that have normal hearing, it is more vital than ever to take care of it. And for all those suffering with hearing loss, it’s crucial to seek the services 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