Though hearing loss is one of the most common health conditions people live with today, it still remains widely undertreated. Over 48 million people have some degree of impaired hearing which is nearly 1 in 6 people. But it is estimated that only one third of people who could benefit from treatment actually receive it. It also takes an average of 7 years for people to address their hearing loss symptoms. Avoiding hearing tests and delaying treatment can have significant consequences on overall health and wellness.
Impact of Avoiding Treatment on Hearing Health
Hearing loss typically occurs gradually so symptoms can remain unnoticed for quite some time. It can also be difficult to acknowledge the reality of changes to hearing health which often contributes to a delay in addressing symptoms. But avoiding treatment can have significant consequences including:
- Strained relationships: communication is essential for healthy relationships. Untreated hearing loss can worsen symptoms which take a toll on communication. Symptoms like tinnitus (buzzing or ringing noise in the ears) and distortion of sound make it challenging to engage in conversations. People with hearing loss may have to ask others to repeat themselves, have difficulty following conversations, may miss words etc. This makes it challenging to have conversations, spend quality time, and engage in activities with others which strains relationships. People often report feeling unheard or ignored by their loved one with hearing loss. This can contribute to frustration, tension, and distance in relationships which can build over time.
- Cognitive decline: extensive research shows that hearing loss can increase the risk of cognitive decline. Studies show that people with hearing loss can be more than twice as likely to experience cognitive decline and associated conditions like dementia and Alzheimer’s. Untreated hearing loss not only happens in the ears but also the brain. There are areas of the brain that are responsible for processing speech as well as sound. Research suggests that these areas can shrink due to hearing loss and less activity and the brain can experience cognitive overload in overextending to try to hear. This can take a toll on cognitive functions and contribute to cognitive decline.
- Depression: studies have also shown that untreated hearing loss can lead to the development of depressive symptoms. Studies have found that people with hearing loss can be more than twice as likely to experience depression. Social withdrawal is a major outcome of untreated hearing loss. Because communication becomes challenging, people tend to avoid them as much as possible. This includes spending less time with loved ones as well as avoiding social activities. This contributes to isolation, anxiety, and loneliness which lends itself to depression.
- Accidental injuries: untreated hearing loss also impacts safety. Being able to hear less reduces spatial awareness which can contribute to falls and accidental injuries. Studies show that people with hearing loss can be nearly three times more likely to have a history of falling.
Untreated hearing loss can profoundly impact health, wellness, and daily life in major ways. This emphasizes the importance of seeking treatment which can transform your quality of life.
Prioritizing Your Hearing Health
There is such a range of hearing healthcare services, resources, and treatment that is available to you. Hearing loss treatment is painless and accessible, offering you benefits that transform your health. The first step is to schedule an appointment for a hearing test which is conducted by a hearing healthcare specialist. Hearing tests involve a noninvasive process that measures your hearing capacity in both ears. This identifies any hearing loss and the degree of impairment you are experiencing. Once your hearing needs are established, your hearing healthcare provider is able to develop an effective treatment plan that meets those needs.
The most common treatment for hearing loss is hearing aids. These are electronic devices that are prescribed by a hearing healthcare specialist. They are equipped with savvy technology that absorbs, amplifies, and processes speech as well as sound. Not only does this boost hearing capacity but it also strengthens communication, improves relationships, reduces health risks, and enriches social life. Contact us to schedule an appointment for a hearing consultation. Our practice is committed to providing the care you need to live an active life.