Hearing damage is dangerously sneaky. It creeps up on an individual through the years so slowly you scarcely become aware of it , making it easy to deny or ignore. And afterwards, when you finally recognize the symptoms, you shrug it off as inconvenient and frustrating because its true effects are hidden.
For close to 48 million Americans that say they experience some level of hearing loss, the effects are substantially greater than only aggravation and frustration.1 Here are 8 reasons why untreated hearing loss is more dangerous than you may think:
1. Link to Dementia and Alzheimer’s disease
An investigation from Johns Hopkins University and the National Institute on Aging indicates that those with hearing loss are significantly more liable to develop dementia, including Alzheimer’s disease, in contrast with those who sustain their hearing.2
Even though the explanation for the association is ultimately undetermined, scientists think that hearing loss and dementia could possibly share a common pathology, or that several years of straining the brain to hear could result in damage. A different theory is that hearing loss quite often leads to social solitude — a leading risk factor for dementia.
No matter what the cause, repairing hearing may very well be the optimum prevention, which includes the use of hearing aids.
2. Depression and social isolation
Researchers from the National Institute on Deafness and Other Communication Disorders (NIDCD), part of the National Institutes of Health, have discovered a strong association between hearing damage and depression among American adults of all ages and races.3
3. Not hearing alerts to danger
Car horns, ambulance and police sirens, and fire alarms all are specifically created to alert you to potential hazards. If you miss out on these types of alerts, you put yourself at an higher risk of injury.
4. Memory impairment and mental decline
Findings show that individuals with hearing loss suffer from a 40% larger rate of decrease in cognitive performance in contrast to people with normal hearing.4 The head author of the study, 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 is the reason why raising awareness as to the connection between hearing loss and cognitive decline is Dr. Lin’s top priority.
5. Lower household income
In a survey of more than 40,000 households performed by the Better Hearing Institute, hearing loss was discovered to adversely impact household income up to $12,000 annually, dependent on the level of hearing loss.5 Those who used hearing aids, however, limited this impact by 50%.
The ability to communicate on the job is critical to job performance and promotion. The fact is, communication skills are routinely ranked as the top job-related skill-set targeted by managers and the top factor for promotion.
6. Auditory deprivation – use it or lose it
When considering the human body, “use it or lose it” is a motto to live by. For instance, if we don’t make use of our muscles, they atrophy or shrink with time, and we end up losing strength. It’s only through physical activity and repetitive use that we can reclaim our physical strength.
The equivalent phenomenon is applicable to hearing: as our hearing deteriorates, we get stuck in a downward spiral that only gets worse. This is often referred to as auditory deprivation, and a developing body of research is confirming the “hearing atrophy” that can manifest with hearing loss.
7. Underlying medical conditions
Despite the fact that the most common cause of hearing loss is related to age and enduring direct exposure to loud sound, hearing loss is every now and then the symptom of a more significant, underlying medical condition. Possible ailments include:
- Cardiovascular disease, high blood pressure, and diabetes
- Otosclerosis – the hardening of the middle ear bones
- Ménière’s disease – a condition of the inner ear affecting hearing and balance
- Traumatic injuries
- Infections, earwax buildup, or obstructions from foreign objects
- Medications – there are more than 200 medications and chemicals that are known to cause hearing and balance issues
Due to the severity of some of the ailments, it is imperative that any hearing loss is rapidly examined.
8. Greater risk of falls
Research has revealed various connections between hearing loss and serious conditions like dementia, Alzheimer’s disease, depression, and anxiety. An additional study conducted by researchers at Johns Hopkins University has uncovered yet another disheartening connection: the connection between hearing loss and the risk of falls.6
The research reveals that individuals with a 25-decibel hearing loss, characterized as mild, were nearly three times more likely to have a history of falling. And for every added 10-decibels of hearing loss, the chances of falling increased by 1.4 times.
Don’t wait to get your hearing tested
The optimistic side to all of this negative research is the suggestion that protecting or repairing your hearing can help to lower or eliminate these risks completely. For those of you that currently have normal hearing, it is more critical than ever to protect it. And for all those 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