Hearing loss is the third most common physical condition in the United States behind only arthritis and heart disease. While more than 48 million Americans live with some degree of hearing loss, only about 20% of them seek help. Treating your hearing loss can do much more than simply improve your ability to hear, it can be beneficial to your mind and body.
Untreated Hearing Loss Can Impact Your Cognitive Abilities
The process of hearing relies on your brain just as much as it does your ears. Your brain is used to receiving a certain amount of auditory information in order to make decisions. In those with untreated hearing loss, their brain only receives a fraction of the input it is used to. In order to make up the difference, the brain will reassign other areas to focus on hearing. When multiple areas needed just to listen, they cannot be used to help you understand the meaning of what you are hearing. This leads to a decline in comprehension.
Untreated hearing loss has also been linked with memory loss and dementia. A 2019 study enrolled 137,723 participants over the age of 65. About 9% of those participants had hearing loss and almost 40% of them reported memory loss. A 2011 study looked at the rate of dementia in relation to degree of hearing loss. The researchers found that:
- Those with mild hearing loss were two times more likely to develop dementia.
- Those with moderate hearing loss were three times more likely to develop dementia.
- Those with severe hearing loss were five times more likely to develop dementia.
Untreated Hearing Loss Can Lead to Falls
We live in a hearing world, and many of the safety features put in place rely on auditory cues. It is easier to cross South Polk Street with the talking walk signals, take your burned dinner out of the oven thanks to the chirp of a smoke detector and keep a safe distance from other cars while driving with the beep of a car horn. Those with untreated hearing loss do not have these safety nets.
Untreated hearing loss may also increase your risk of physical injury, including falls. A 2012 study conducted by Dr. Frank Lin found that hearing loss is linked to a three-fold risk of falling.
Untreated Hearing Loss Can Affect Your Mental Health
Those living with untreated hearing loss often find keeping up with conversations exhausting. Struggling to hear requires additional concentration, which can lead to mental and physical fatigue. Over time, it is common for people to slowly withdraw, choosing to spend time alone rather than put themselves into these challenging situations. This can lead to a number of mental health issues such as loneliness, anxiety and depression.
Hearing aids can help.
To learn about what you can do to treat your hearing loss or to schedule an appointment with a hearing expert, contact Ormson Hearing Clinic today.