Hearing decline is hazardously sneaky. It creeps up on a person through the years so gradually you scarcely become aware of it , making it all too easy to deny it’s even there. And afterwards, when you finally acknowledge the symptoms, you shrug it off as bothersome and frustrating due to the fact that its true effects are hidden.
For a staggering 48 million Us citizens that claim some level of hearing loss, the effects are significantly greater than just inconvenience and frustration. Here are 8 reasons why untreated hearing loss is a great deal more dangerous than you might believe:
1. Connection to Dementia and Alzheimer’s disease
A study from Johns Hopkins University and the National Institute on Aging shows that individuals with hearing loss are considerably more likely to suffer from dementia, including Alzheimer’s disease, compared with people who retain their ability to hear.2
Although the explanation for the connection is ultimately undetermined, researchers think that hearing loss and dementia might share a common pathology, or that several years of stressing the brain to hear could bring about harm. An additional hypothesis is that hearing loss often results in social isolation — a dominant risk factor for dementia.
No matter what the cause, recovering hearing might be the best prevention, including the use of hearing aids.
2. Depression and social isolation
Scientists from the National Institute on Deafness and Other Communication Disorders (NIDCD), part of the National Institutes of Health, have detected a strong link between hearing loss and depression among American adults of all ages and races.3
3. Not hearing alerts to danger
Car horns, ambulance and law enforcement sirens, and fire alarms all are formulated to warn you to potential hazards. If you miss these types of signals, you put yourself at an elevated risk of injury.
4. Memory impairment and mental decline
Studies reveal that individuals with hearing loss experience a 40% greater rate of decrease in cognitive performance in contrast to those with healthy hearing.4 The top 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’s the reason why increasing awareness as to the link between hearing loss and cognitive decline is Dr. Lin’s top priority.
5. Reduced household income
In a review of more than 40,000 households conducted by the Better Hearing Institute, hearing loss was shown to negatively affect household income by as much as $12,000 annually, dependent on the degree of hearing loss.5 individuals who wore hearing aids, however, lowered this impact by 50%.
The ability to communicate in the workplace is vital to job performance and advancement. In fact, communication skills are consistently ranked as the number one job-related skill-set coveted by managers 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 slogan to live by. As an example, if we don’t make use of our muscles, they atrophy or reduce in size over time, and we end up losing strength. It’s only through exercise and repetitive use that we can recoup our physical strength.
The the exact same phenomenon is applicable to hearing: as our hearing degrades, we get stuck in a descending spiral that only gets worse. This is often referred to as auditory deprivation, and a multiplying body of research is confirming the “hearing atrophy” that can occur with hearing loss.
7. Underlying medical conditions
Despite the fact that the most common cause of hearing loss is related to age and consistent direct exposure to loud sound, hearing loss is every now and then the symptom of a more serious, underlying medical condition. Possible conditions 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 obstructions from foreign objects
- Medications – there are more than 200 medications and chemicals that are known to cause hearing and balance problems
Because of the severity of some of the conditions, it is necessary that any hearing loss is quickly evaluated.
8. Increased risk of falls
Research has exposed multitude of links between hearing loss and serious conditions like dementia, Alzheimer’s disease, depression, and anxiety. A further study conducted by investigators at Johns Hopkins University has uncovered still another disheartening link: the connection between hearing loss and the risk of falls.6
The research shows that people with a 25-decibel hearing loss, classified as mild, were roughly three times more likely to have a history of falling. And for every additional 10-decibels of hearing loss, the chances of falling increased by 1.4 times.
Don’t wait to get your hearing tested
The optimistic part to all of this pessimistic research is the suggestion that sustaining or restoring your hearing can help to minimize or eliminate these risks completely. For the people that currently have normal hearing, it is more critical than ever to take care of it. And for those of you suffering with hearing loss, it’s vital to seek the help of a hearing specialist without delay.
- 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