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It’s frequently suggested that we don’t fully appreciate the things we have until they’re gone, and this appears to be specifically true of our ability to hear. Hearing loss is not only tough to detect; it’s also difficult to appreciate just how much hearing enhances our lives.

As one of our principal senses, along with vision, hearing effects our mental, social, and physical health, so when we compromise our hearing, we put our overall welfare in jeopardy. But restoring our hearing can have several health benefits that we never really give much thought to.

Here are three ways improving your hearing can enhance your social, mental, and physical health.

Hearing and Relationships

The foundation of any healthy relationship is communication, and with hearing loss, that foundation is weakened. Misunderstandings, hard-feelings, and avoidance can all result from hearing loss and the barrier to communication it produces.

Hearing loss can be especially disruptive to a marriage, as Julie and Charlie Kraft had to find out the hard way.

For most of Charlie’s adult life, he has had a common form of hearing loss known as high-frequency hearing loss, in which he has difficulty hearing high-pitched sounds. And because the female voice is higher-pitched than the male voice, Charlie had an especially tough time hearing his wife.

But seeing that Charlie wasn’t aware of his hearing loss, he thought his wife Julie simply talked too quietly, which was frustrating for him. At the same time, Julie thought Charlie spoke too loudly—not to mention that she always had to repeat herself—which was aggravating for her.

In this way, hearing loss creates a frustrating barrier to communication where both people harbor bad feelings towards one another.

In Charlie and Julie’s example, they had the awareness to recognize the hearing loss and to take action to tackle it. After Charlie started wearing hearing aids, he no longer had to speak so loud, and he started hearing new sounds, like the sounds of birds on the golf course. But the one benefit he reported he appreciated the most was the enhanced communication he had with his wife.

Julie agreed, and both expressed how much healthier their relationship is without the stress of hearing loss.

Hearing and Physical Health

Does using hearing aids tend to make you more active?

The answer is yes, according to a survey conducted by Hear The World Foundation, which revealed that 21 percent of those interviewed stated that they exercised more after getting hearing aids. In addition, 34 percent said they actively participate in sports at least once per week, and 69 percent believe that their hearing aids have a positive effect on their general health.

Hearing loss can make communication difficult to the point where people tend to avoid the social events and activities that they used to enjoy. With hearing aids, you can pursue these activities more confidently, leading to more exercise and improved physical health.

Hearing and Mental Health

In a recent study, researchers from the National Institute on Deafness and Other Communication Disorders (NIDCD) found a strong connection between hearing loss and depression among US adults of all ages.

Other studies by Johns Hopkins University have linked hearing loss to general cognitive decline, including memory issues as well as an increased risk of developing dementia and Alzheimer’s Disease.

Clearly, the lack of sound stimulation to the brain with hearing loss causes several negative effects, leading to an increased risk of depression, social isolation, and mental decline. But the good news is, studies have also shown that wearing hearing aids can reverse or prevent many of these problems.

How Has Better Hearing Improved YOUR Life?

Statistics are one thing; stories of actual people reaping the benefits of improved hearing are quite another.

If you use hearing aids, let us know in a comment below how your life, relationships, and/or physical or mental health has improved! You may end up inspiring someone else to take the first steps toward better hearing.