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The thing about hearing loss is that it’s easy to disregard. You can deny it for many years, compensating for substandard hearing by turning up the volume on your TV or phone and forcing people to repeat themselves.

But together with the stress this places on relationships, there are additional, concealed effects of untreated hearing loss that are not as apparent but more concerning.

The following are six possible consequences of untreated hearing loss.

1. Missing out

Hearing loss can cause you to miss out on crucial conversations and familiar 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 social as compared to those 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 serious emotional effects.

3. Cognitive decline

Hearing loss can impact your thinking and memory. Johns Hopkins Medicine found that those with hearing loss suffered rates of cognitive decline 30-40 percent faster than people with normal hearing.

The rate of decline varies according to the degree of hearing loss, but on average, those with hearing loss showed considerable impairment in cognitive ability 3.2 years sooner than those with normal hearing.

4. Mental exhaustion

Listening requires energy, and when you struggle to hear certain words or have to constantly fill in the blanks, the extra effort is tiring. Those with hearing loss report greater levels of fatigue at the days end, in particular immediately after prolonged conferences or group activities.

5. Diminished work performance

The Better Hearing Institute discovered that, according to a survey of more than 40,000 households, hearing loss negatively impacted annual household income by an average of as much as $12,000. The financial impact was directly associated with the level of hearing loss.

The findings make sense. Hearing loss can lead to communication problems and mistakes while at work, limiting productivity, promotions, and in some instances taking people out of the job market.

6. Safety concerns

Those with hearing loss can fail to hear alarm systems, sirens, or other signals to potentially dangerous scenarios. They’re also more likely to have a history of falling.

According to a study from Johns Hopkins University, hearing loss has been associated with an increased risk of falling. Those with mild hearing loss were just about three times more likely to have a history of falling and the likelihood of falling increased as hearing loss became worse.

The truth is hearing loss is not just a minor inconvenience—it has a host of physical, mental, and social effects that can dramatically reduce an individual’s overall quality of life. But the good news is that it’s virtually all avoidable.

All of the consequences we just reviewed are the result of diminished sound stimulation to the brain. Contemporary hearing aids, while not able to restore hearing entirely to normal, nevertheless can furnish the amplification necessary to prevent most or all of these consequences.

That’s why the majority of patients are content with their hearing aid’s performance. It permits them to easily understand speech, hear without constantly struggling, and appreciate the sounds they’ve been missing for many years.

Don’t risk the consequences—test drive the new technology and see for yourself how your life can improve.