Do you have an inkling you may not be hearing as well as you used to, but keep putting off a hearing exam? Despite the critical role hearing plays in our lives, too often people ignore the signs of hearing loss and de-prioritize the necessity of regular hearing check-ups. Your hearing health is a medical concern and untreated hearing loss elevates other health risks. Still, stigma and denial around hearing loss have contributed to an alarming seven-year gap between when people notice hearing problems and seek professional help for hearing issues!
If you’ve procrastinated on getting your hearing checked, thinking “it’s no big deal” it’s time to think again. Here are some of the main ways hearing loss ripples through your overall health.
Untreated Hearing Loss Diminishes Your Social Life
Not being able to hear takes its most obvious toll on your quality of life. By limiting your communication and comprehension, hearing loss contracts your social orbit. Noisy events like parties, concerts, or sporting games become harder to navigate and enjoy when you can’t comprehend or place sounds correctly. At work, you may find yourself feeling out of the loop in meetings or conversations, and it’s been shown that workers with untreated hearing issues earn significantly less.
Hearing loss can make loud places and events undesirable, and it can also affect your closest relationships. Hearing loss, when unchecked, makes it harder to carry a telephone conversation, or understand voices that are very high or very low pitched. This makes it harder to understand your loved ones, as well as harder to feel understood by them.
Untreated Hearing Loss Can Damage Your Mental Health
The social effects of hearing loss can take a toll on your mental health. Untreated hearing loss increases the incidence of depression, anxiety and isolation. These drains on our mental health can occur by themselves or in combination, and they all have a negative effect on people’s lives and daily functioning.
When we feel misunderstood and struggle to understand others, our isolation from our communities and networks intensifies, and it becomes harder to reconnect. Untreated hearing loss can make connection seem elusive and communication seem futile, driving causes of social isolation. Intense confusion or difficulties with interpreting sounds can make it hard to navigate even familiar environments. When we can’t depend on our hearing to help define a space or guide us through a conversation, frustration and tension build while trying to keep up becomes an increasing struggle. In this way, people with untreated hearing loss are vulnerable to increased rates of anxiety. Similarly, the daily challenges of hearing loss can intensify into depression.
Untreated Hearing Loss Contributes to Accidents
It may be surprising to learn that untreated hearing loss contributes to a greater risk of falling accidents and injuries, but there is a direct relationship between them, boiling down to how the brain prioritizes its functions. When a person is compensating for hearing loss, the auditory nerve has to work overtime to process sounds for the brain. The brain in turn, has to make extra efforts to interpret the compromised sounds that are delivered to it. Overall, this intensifies the amount of cognitive function needed for hearing and detracts from cognitive functioning being used for coordination and balance.
When the brain skimps on how it deals with coordination, accidents inevitably increase. In essence, hearing loss results in our brain “shortchanging” its other duties.
Untreated Hearing Loss Is Linked to Dementia
Just as the cognitive burden of hearing loss makes people more accident-prone, it also can contribute to serious cognitive problems like dementia and Alzheimer’s disease. Risk factors increase with greater amounts of hearing loss. For dementia, this means a two-fold increase in likelihood for those with mild hearing impairment, and five times greater risk for those with severe hearing loss.
Compensating for untreated hearing loss can engulf other brain functions and eventually cause chaos and confusion in the mind. Additionally, when dementia or Alzheimer’s are already present, hearing loss can escalate their effects.
Exceptional Hearing Care
Hearing loss can have a huge impact on your life – but it doesn’t have to! With treatment, you can connect with devices and therapies that minimize the effects of hearing damage and help you stay connected to the people and things you value most. Make your first step Exceptional Hearing Care. Our knowledgeable team is here for your hearing, so set up an appointment today!