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OCT

Posted on Monday, October 29, 2012

Consequences of Ignoring Hearing Loss

Couple on Autumn stroll ponders the consequences of ignoring hearing loss.

A study by the National Council on Aging found that an estimated 19 million adults from age 45 and up have hearing loss but fewer than half use hearing aids. The study aimed at discovering the consequences of untreated hearing loss for older adults found that untreated hearing loss has economic, emotional, and health consequences.

Consequences of Untreated Hearing Loss on Health

“Anything we can do to preserve our hearing-whether it's avoiding damage in the first place by limiting exposure to loud sounds, or by getting a hearing aid to boost input levels-will potentially preserve the health and function of the brain regions involved in processing sounds and speech.” Dr. Jonathan Peelle

Recent studies have found a shocking connection between hearing loss and serious health conditions like dementia and Alzheimer’s. It is thought that the strain of having to decode words over the years, the lack of stimulation delivered through the ears to the brain, or the social isolation that often occurs with hearing loss is responsible for this connection. It’s not just mental functions that are diminished with untreated hearing loss, people with untreated hearing loss have been shown to be less healthy than those that seek treatment.

Consequences of Untreated Hearing Loss on Finances

“Hearing loss was shown to negatively impact household income on-average up to $12,000 per year depending on the degree of hearing loss.” Better Hearing Institute

26 million people live with untreated hearing loss. A majority of those people cite the high cost of hearing aids as the reason for refusing treatment, but individuals and society still pay the cost in lost income, higher health care cost, and lost taxes. Untreated hearing loss costs the average person 12,000 a year, and the collective monitory cost of untreated hearing loss is thought to exceed 100 billion dollars a year. It is believed lower salary is due to more mistakes that come about due to an inability to engage in every day communication. Treating hearing loss can cost pennies a day, far less than the consequences of ignoring hearing loss.

Consequences of Untreated Hearing Loss on Emotions

“Blindness separates us from things but deafness separates us from people.” Helen Keller

A comparison of older adults with hearing loss who did not use hearing aids and those who did use hearing aids showed a marked difference in levels of happiness and general satisfaction with life. Those who did not use hearing aids were more likely to report sadness and depression, worry and anxiety, paranoia, less social activity, emotional turmoil and insecurity. Hearing loss hinders communication and can leave people feeling cut off from the rest of the world.

Benefits of Treating Hearing Loss

“When someone in the family has a hearing loss, the entire family has a hearing problem." Mark Ross, PhD

People who improve their hearing with hearing aids more often reported better relationships with their families, better feelings about themselves, improved mental health, and greater independence and security. Thus, hearing loss can impact health, income, and emotions in ways people fail to realize. There are many important reasons for treating hearing loss. See your audiologist to find out the best way to treat your hearing loss.

If you'd like to learn more, see your hearing health provider. If you need help finding a hearing health provider click HERE to be connected with the largest network of trusted hearing health professionals in the nation!

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