Hearing decline is dangerously sneaky. It creeps up on an individual through the years so gradually you hardly become aware of it , making it all too easy to deny it’s even there. And then, when you finally recognize the symptoms, you shrug it off as troublesome and annoying as its most unfortunate effects are hidden.
For up to 48 million Americans that claim some extent of hearing loss, the consequences are significantly greater than merely inconvenience and frustration.1 listed here are 8 reasons why untreated hearing loss is considerably more dangerous than you may think:
1. Connection to Dementia and Alzheimer’s disease
An investigation from Johns Hopkins University and the National Institute on Aging indicates that individuals with hearing loss are substantially more likely to develop dementia, including Alzheimer’s disease, compared with individuals who sustain their hearing.2
Even though the explanation for the connection is ultimately undetermined, researchers suppose that hearing loss and dementia may share a common pathology, or that several years of stressing the brain to hear could create damage. Another theory is that hearing loss commonly leads to social separation — a top risk factor for dementia.
Irrespective of the cause, recovering 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 uncovered a strong connection between hearing damage and depression among U.S. adults of all ages and races.3
3. Not hearing alerts to danger
Automobile horns, ambulance and law enforcement sirens, and fire alarms all are designed to alert you to possible hazards. If you miss out on these types of alerts, you place yourself at an heightened risk of injury.
4. Memory impairment and mental decline
Findings suggest that individuals with hearing loss endure a 40% larger rate of decrease in cognitive ability in comparison to people with normal hearing.4 The main author of the research, 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 raising awareness as to the connection between hearing loss and cognitive decline is Dr. Lin’s foremost concern.
5. Lower household income
In a survey of over 40,000 households performed by the Better Hearing Institute, hearing loss was discovered to negatively impact household income up to $12,000 annually, dependent on the amount of hearing loss.5 Those who wore hearing aids, however, minimized this impact by 50%.
The capacity to communicate at the job is essential to job performance and advancement. In fact, communication skills are routinely ranked as the number one job-related skill-set requested by employers and the leading factor for promotion.
6. Auditory deprivation – use it or lose it
In regard to the human body, “use it or lose it” is a saying to live by. For 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 physical activity and repetitive use that we can recover our physical strength.
The same phenomenon applies to hearing: as our hearing degrades, we get caught in a descending spiral that only gets worse. This is often referred to as auditory deprivation, and a fast growing body of research is confirming the “hearing atrophy” that can come about with hearing loss.
7. Underlying medical conditions
Although the most common cause of hearing loss is associated with age and regular direct exposure to loud noise, hearing loss is on occasion the symptom of a more significant, underlying medical condition. Possible ailments include:
- Heart disease, high blood pressure, and diabetes
- Otosclerosis – the solidifying of the middle ear bones
- Ménière’s disease – a disorder of the inner ear affecting hearing and balance
- Traumatic injuries
- Infections, earwax buildup, or blockages from foreign objects
- Medications – there are more than 200 medications and chemicals that are known to cause hearing and balance problems
Because of the seriousness of some of the conditions, it is important that any hearing loss is rapidly examined.
8. Higher risk of falls
Research has revealed numerous links between hearing loss and serious ailments like dementia, Alzheimer’s disease, depression, and anxiety. A further study carried out by researchers at Johns Hopkins University has found yet another discouraging connection: the connection between hearing loss and the risk of falls.6
The study suggests that people with a 25-decibel hearing loss, characterized as mild, were nearly three times more likely to have a record 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 favorable part to all of this pessimistic research is the suggestion that maintaining or restoring your hearing can help to limit or eliminate these risks completely. For all that currently have normal hearing, it is more vital than ever to take care of it. And for individuals suffering with hearing loss, it’s imperative 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