Hearing loss is dangerously sneaky. It creeps up on an individual over the years so little by little you scarcely notice, making it easy to deny or ignore. And then, when you eventually recognize the signs and symptoms, you shrug it off as troublesome and annoying due to the fact that its true consequences are hidden.
For around 48 million Us citizens that claim some degree of hearing loss, the consequences are significantly greater than just irritation and frustration.1 listed below 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 reveals that people with hearing loss are considerably more susceptible to develop dementia, including Alzheimer’s disease, in contrast with those who sustain their hearing.2
Whereas the explanation for the association is ultimately undetermined, researchers suppose that hearing loss and dementia may share a mutual pathology, or that several years of stressing the brain to hear could develop harm. Another theory is that hearing loss often times leads to social solitude — a primary risk factor for dementia.
Regardless of the cause, recovering hearing could very well be the best 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 found a strong relation between hearing loss and depression among U.S. adults of all ages and races.3
3. Not hearing alerts to danger
Car horns, ambulance and police sirens, and fire alarms all are developed to notify you to possible danger. If you miss these types of signals, you put yourself at an higher risk of injury.
4. Memory impairment and mental decline
Studies show that individuals with hearing loss have a 40% higher rate of decline in cognitive function in comparison to those with normal hearing.4 The lead author of the investigation, 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 growing awareness as to the link between hearing loss and cognitive decline is Dr. Lin’s top priority.
5. Lowered household income
In a review of over 40,000 households performed by the Better Hearing Institute, hearing loss was shown to negatively influence household income up to $12,000 annually, based on the amount of hearing loss.5 Those who wore hearing aids, however, minimized this impact by 50%.
The capacity to communicate in the workplace is essential to job performance and advancement. In fact, communication skills are perpetually ranked as the number one job-related skill-set targeted by recruiters and the top 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 motto to live by. For example, if we don’t make use of our muscles, they atrophy or reduce in size with time, and we end up losing strength. It’s only through physical exercise and repetitive use that we can reclaim our physical strength.
The same phenomenon is true to hearing: as our hearing weakens, we get caught in a downward spiral that only gets worse. This is recognized as auditory deprivation, and a expanding body of research is validating the “hearing atrophy” that can come about with hearing loss.
7. Underlying medical conditions
Despite the fact that the most common cause of hearing loss is related to age and persistent direct exposure to loud sound, hearing loss is once in a while the symptom of a more serious, underlying medical condition. Potential ailments include:
- Cardiovascular 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 problems
Owing to the severity of some of the ailments, it is imperative that any hearing loss is quickly examined.
8. Increased risk of falls
Research has revealed multitude of connections between hearing loss and serious ailments like dementia, Alzheimer’s disease, depression, and anxiety. An additional study conducted by researchers at Johns Hopkins University has revealed still another discouraging connection: the connection between hearing loss and the risk of falls.6
The research suggests that individuals with a 25-decibel hearing loss, categorized as mild, were close to 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 encouraging part to all of this negative research is the suggestion that retaining or restoring your hearing can help to lessen or eliminate these risks entirely. For individuals that currently have normal hearing, it is more vital than ever to look after it. And for everyone suffering with hearing loss, it’s vital to seek the services of a hearing specialist as soon as possible.