The thing about hearing loss is that it’s easy to overlook. You can deny it for years, compensating for substandard hearing by turning up the volume on your phone or TV and pressuring people to repeat themselves.
But apart from the stress this places on personal relationships, there are additional, concealed effects of untreated hearing loss that are not as apparent but more concerning.
Here are six possible consequences of untreated hearing loss.
1. Missing out
Hearing loss can cause you to miss out on vital conversations and common sounds like birds chirping or the sound of rain on the rooftop. Common household sounds continue to fade as your private world of sound narrows.
2. Anxiety and depression
A study by the National Council on the Aging found that individuals with untreated hearing loss age 50 and older were more likely to report depression, anxiety, and paranoia and were less sociable when compared with people who wore hearing aids.
Hearing loss can result in damaged relationships, stress and anxiety, social isolation, and ultimately depression. Hearing loss can be upsetting and embarrassing and can have considerable psychological effects.
3. Intellectual decline
Hearing loss can affect your thinking and memory. Johns Hopkins Medicine discovered that those with hearing loss experienced rates of cognitive decline 30-40 percent faster than individuals with normal hearing.
The rate of decline is dependent upon the degree of hearing loss, but on average, those with hearing loss showed drastic impairment in cognitive skill 3.2 years faster than those with normal hearing.
4. Mental exhaustion
Listening requires energy, and when you struggle to hear certain words or have to continuously fill in the blanks, the additional effort is exhausting. Those with hearing loss report greater levels of fatigue at the days end, in particular after long meetings or group activities.
5. Reduced work performance
The Better Hearing Institute found that, according to a survey of more than 40,000 households, hearing loss negatively impacted yearly household income by an average of as much as $12,000. The economic impact was directly connected to the extent of hearing loss.
The results make good sense. Hearing loss can result in communication problems and mistakes while at work, limiting productivity, promotions, and in some cases taking people out of the job market.
6. Safety concerns
People with hearing loss can fail to hear alarms, sirens, or other signals to potentially unsafe situations. They’re also more likely to experience falls.
According to a study from Johns Hopkins University, hearing loss has been linked to an increased risk of falling. Those with mild hearing loss were nearly three times more likely to have a history of falling and the chance of falling increased as hearing loss became more serious.
The truth is hearing loss is not just a modest inconvenience—it has a variety of physical, mental, and social consequences that can substantially reduce an individual’s overall quality of life. But the good news is that it’s almost all preventable.
Most of the consequences we just discussed are the result of reduced sound stimulation to the brain. Modern hearing aids, while not able to restore hearing completely to normal, nonetheless can provide you with the amplification necessary to avert most or all of these consequences.
That’s why the majority of patients are pleased with their hearing aid’s performance. It makes it possible for them to easily understand speech, hear without continuously struggling, and appreciate the sounds they’ve been missing for years.
Don’t risk the consequences—test out the new technology and see for yourself how your life can improve.