Hearing impairment is hazardously sneaky. It creeps up on a person over the years so slowly you barely notice, making it easy to deny or ignore. And afterwards, when you eventually recognize the symptoms, you shrug it off as bothersome and irritating as its true effects are hidden.
For about 48 million American citizens that claim some extent of hearing loss, the effects are considerably greater than simply annoyance and frustration.1 listed here are 8 reasons why untreated hearing loss is a lot more dangerous than you might believe:
1. Connection to Dementia and Alzheimer’s disease
A study from Johns Hopkins University and the National Institute on Aging reveals that those with hearing loss are substantially more liable to develop dementia, including Alzheimer’s disease, compared with people who retain their hearing.2
Although the reason for the connection is ultimately undetermined, researchers suspect that hearing loss and dementia could possibly share a shared pathology, or that years and years of stressing the brain to hear could bring on harm. A different explanation is that hearing loss commonly causes social isolation — a recognized risk factor for dementia.
Regardless of the cause, recovering hearing may very well be the optimum prevention, which includes 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 observed a strong link between hearing damage and depression among American 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 formulated to warn you to potential hazards. If you miss out on these types of indicators, you put yourself at an elevated risk of injury.
4. Memory impairment and mental decline
Reports suggest that adults with hearing loss encounter a 40% greater rate of decrease in cognitive function in contrast to those with healthy hearing.4 The lead author of the investigation, Frank R. Lin, MD, PhD, of Johns Hopkins University, stated 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 increasing awareness as to the connection between hearing loss and cognitive decline is Dr. Lin’s top concern.
5. Lowered household income
In a survey of more than 40,000 households carried out by the Better Hearing Institute, hearing loss was discovered to negatively influence household income by as much as $12,000 annually, based on the extent of hearing loss.5 individuals who used hearing aids, however, cut this impact by 50%.
The ability to communicate on the job is essential to job performance and advancement. In fact, communication skills are frequently ranked as the number one job-related skill-set coveted by managers and the leading factor for promotion.
6. Auditory deprivation – use it or lose it
When it comes to the human body, “use it or lose it” is a mantra to live by. For example, if we don’t make use of our muscles, they atrophy or shrink as time passes, and we end up losing strength. It’s only through exercise and repetitive use that we can reclaim our physical strength.
The the exact same phenomenon applies to hearing: as our hearing weakens, we get ensnared 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 occur with hearing loss.
7. Underlying medical conditions
Even though the most common cause of hearing loss is related to age and enduring exposure to loud noise, hearing loss is at times the symptom of a more significant, underlying medical condition. Potential ailments include:
- Cardiovascular disease, high blood pressure, and diabetes
- Otosclerosis – the solidifying of the middle ear bones
- Ménière’s disease – a disease 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 problems
Due to the severity of some of the ailments, it is imperative that any hearing loss is quickly evaluated.
8. Higher risk of falls
Research has uncovered a large number of connections between hearing loss and dangerous diseases like dementia, Alzheimer’s disease, depression, and anxiety. A further study carried out by investigators at Johns Hopkins University has uncovered still another discouraging connection: the connection between hearing loss and the risk of falls.6
The research shows that individuals with a 25-decibel hearing loss, characterized as mild, were just about three times more likely to have a history of falling. And for every added 10-decibels of hearing loss, the likelihood of falling increased by 1.4 times.
Don’t wait to get your hearing tested
The encouraging part to all of this negative research is the suggestion that sustaining or recovering your hearing can help to lower or eliminate these risks entirely. For all those 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 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