Research shows that connecting with family and friends is vital for our mental wellbeing, and the ability to hear is one of the fundamentals of social interaction.*
The Hidden Consequences of Untreated Hearing Loss
Hearing is a precious gift, enriching our lives with the beautiful sounds of the world and allowing us to connect with those we love. However, when hearing loss goes untreated, it doesn’t just affect your ears – it has a profound impact on your overall well-being and those around you.
Here’s a closer look at the effects of untreated hearing loss, unveiling its far-reaching consequences that may surprise you.
Strained Personal Relationships
Hearing loss often goes unnoticed by the person experiencing it, but not by their loved ones. The need for repetition can lead to frustration, stress, and embarrassment for both you and your loved ones. Communication breakdowns can strain relationships, leading to further isolation and a loss of intimacy.
Untreated hearing loss can lead to social isolation as the effort to follow conversations and reliance on visual cues can become mentally exhausting. This can ultimately result in withdrawing from social activities, leading to feelings of loneliness, anxiety, and depression, as supported by various studies. Individuals may avoid challenging communication situations or fail to participate even if in attendance.
Increased Risk of Cognitive Decline and Dementia
Your brain, like a muscle, needs regular exercise. Untreated hearing loss deprives it of stimulation, and numerous studies have demonstrated a strong link between hearing loss and cognitive decline, including conditions like dementia. Early intervention with hearing aids can reduce this risk.
Diminished Mental Well-Being
The constant effort to hear and communicate effectively can lead to frustration, anxiety, and even depression. Feelings of isolation and the sense of being disconnected from social interactions can take a toll on one’s mental health.
Increased Risk of Falling
The cognitive load imposed by untreated hearing loss, coupled with decreased situational awareness, triples the risk of falling among seniors.
Missed Opportunities at Work
Hearing loss can impact your career prospects, as hearing is often tied to job performance and job security. Miscommunication can even be misconstrued for reduced competency. Because of this, untreated hearing loss has been shown to limit earning potential and job opportunities.
Struggling to decipher conversations and straining to hear sounds can be mentally draining, leaving individuals feeling exhausted even after routine activities. The extra cognitive effort required in social interactions can contribute to this fatigue, affecting overall energy levels and well-being. It can even contribute to difficulty storing memories.
Other Health Issues Related to Hearing Loss
Untreated hearing loss can also indicate other health problems, including:
- Tinnitus: Often described as ringing or buzzing in the ears, tinnitus is a common symptom of hearing loss and its presence, when persistent, is worth investigating to determine if there is another underlying health concern.
- Diabetes: People with diabetes are twice as likely to have hearing loss due to nerve damage in the ears. Regular hearing tests are crucial for managing diabetes and often overlooked in routine diabetes care.
- Cardiovascular Disease: While hearing loss won’t cause heart disease, it may indicate its presence. Discovering hearing loss may prompt further evaluation for heart disease.
The first step in addressing hearing loss is to schedule a hearing test with a trusted professional. During this assessment our team can determine the extent of your hearing loss and recommend a personalized treatment plan tailored to your needs, preferences, and budget.
Don’t let untreated hearing loss rob you of life’s beautiful sounds and connections – take action today to enjoy a more fulfilling life.
* Mark Ross, PhD