The thing about hearing loss is that it’s easy to just ignore. You can deny it for years, compensating for substandard hearing by turning up the volume on your phone or TV and forcing people to repeat themselves.
But together with the strain this places on personal relationships, there are additional, concealed effects of untreated hearing loss that are not as conspicuous but more concerning.
Here are six potential consequences of untreated hearing loss.
1. Missing out
Hearing loss can cause you to miss out on important conversations and common sounds like birds chirping or the sound of rain on the rooftop. Ordinary 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 those with untreated hearing loss age 50 and older were more likely to report depression, anxiety, and paranoia and were less social as compared to people who used hearing aids.
Hearing loss can create impaired relationships, stress and anxiety, social isolation, and ultimately depression. Hearing loss can be stressful and embarrassing and can have serious psychological effects.
3. Intellectual decline
Hearing loss can impact your thinking and memory. Johns Hopkins Medicine found that those with hearing loss encountered rates of cognitive decline 30-40 percent faster than individuals with normal hearing.
The rate of decline varies according to the severity of hearing loss, but on average, those with hearing loss showed significant impairment in cognitive ability 3.2 years sooner than those with normal hearing.
4. Mental exhaustion
Listening requires effort, and when you fight to hear specific words or have to constantly fill in the blanks, the extra hassle is exhausting. Individuals with hearing loss describe greater levels of fatigue at the days end, in particular following long conferences or group activities.
5. Diminished work performance
The Better Hearing Institute discovered that, based on a survey of more than 40,000 households, hearing loss adversely influenced annual household income by an average of as much as $12,000. The financial impact was directly related to the measure of hearing loss.
The findings make sense. Hearing loss can cause communication issues and mistakes while at work, limiting productivity, promotions, and in some cases taking people out of the job market.
6. Safety considerations
Those with hearing loss can fail to hear alarms, sirens, or other signals to potentially unsafe situations. They’re also more likely to experience falls.
According to a study from Johns Hopkins University, hearing loss has been linked to 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 chance of falling increased as hearing loss became more serious.
The truth is hearing loss is not just a small annoyance—it has a host of physical, mental, and social consequences that can considerably reduce an individual’s overall quality of life. But the good news is that it’s virtually all preventable.
All of the consequences we just discussed are the outcome of reduced sound stimulation to the brain. Modern day 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 most patients are satisfied with their hearing aid’s overall performance. It makes it possible for them to easily understand speech, hear without continuously struggling, and take pleasure in the sounds they’ve been missing for many years.
Don’t risk the consequences—try out the new technology and find out for yourself how your life can improve.