How often do you think about your sense of hearing? The sense of hearing is always “on,” which is why we are able to wake up to an alarm clock. Even so, people tend not to think about their hearing abilities, even when they begin to change. It is more common for people to make accommodations, such as turning up the volume or asking others to speak louder or more clearly.
In part, because hearing loss occurs gradually, we may not notice that treatment is necessary. In some cases, people may want to avoid the issue, or find it difficult to face the reality that they are experiencing hearing loss.
Studies have found that untreated hearing loss could lead to many negative consequences for our health and well-being. People wait an average of five to seven years from the time they first notice changes in their hearing abilities to the time they decide to seek treatment. Among hearing health professionals, the consensus is that we should address the issue as soon as we notice changes in our hearing abilities.
Consequences of Untreated Hearing Loss
Hearing loss is the third most common medical condition in the US, affecting about 48 million Americans. Among older Americans, one in three over the age of 65 and 50% over the age of 75 experience some degree of hearing loss. Despite its prevalence, only about 20% of people with hearing loss receive necessary treatment.
As a medical condition, untreated hearing loss has been linked to a number other medical issues, affecting both physical and mental faculties. By treating hearing loss, we will experience many benefits, such as improved cognitive function, higher earning power, and better physical and mental health. It all begins with scheduling a hearing test.
Benefits to Cognitive Function
Did you know that hearing happens in your brain? With untreated hearing loss, our cognitive abilities are overloaded as they attempt to decipher muddled sound signals. Studies from Johns Hopkins University have found potential links between untreated hearing loss and the risk for developing dementia. As the brain struggles to hear, it creates a heavier cognitive load, detracting from our normal processes. Researchers also found that people who treated hearing loss with hearing aids showed significantly improved cognitive function compared to their counterparts who did not. Hearing aids help to clarify and improve sound signals, which reduce the strain on our brains.
Benefits in the Workplace
According to the Hearing Loss Association of America, 60% of people with hearing loss are in the work force or in educational settings. Studies have found that people who leave hearing loss untreated tend to have lower earning power than colleagues with normal hearing or colleagues who treat their hearing loss: “While people in the workplace with the mildest hearing losses show little or no drop in income compared to their normal hearing peers, as the hearing loss increases, so does the reduction in compensation.”
Because hearing loss interferes with speech recognition, this could make communication difficult in the workplace. Moreover, when we struggle to hear, this raises levels of stress and anxiety. Overall, the experience of untreated hearing loss and difficulties with communication may contribute to poor performance in the workplace. By treating hearing loss – with the use of hearing aids – our abilities to communicate are significantly improved, which brings benefits to the workplace.
Benefits to Safety and Security
Your vestibular (balance) system shares a lot of the same functions with your auditory system. Researchers at Boston University School of Public Health found that hearing loss “could increase the risk of falls and injuries, lead to increased functional limitation and subsequent disability and reduce one’s activity and participation, leading to decreased quality of life.”
We rely on our sense of hearing to keep us connected to the world. While moving around throughout our day, our sense of hearing keeps us safe – from the warning blare of a car horn or the smoke alarm in the kitchen. Treating hearing improves our safety and security.
Benefits to Your Emotional Well-Being
Hearing loss makes it difficult for us to communicate, which could affect our interpersonal relationships in the long term. We may experience difficulty in group settings, restaurants, and social interactions, and as a result, we may find ourselves withdrawing from social situations.
Untreated hearing loss has been found to increase feelings of irritability, anger, fatigue, stress, and depression. If you believe you, or someone you love, are experiencing hearing loss, seeking treatment is the first step to improving both your emotional and physical well-being.
Visit us at Custom Hearing Solutions
The first step to treating hearing loss is scheduling a hearing test. Our friendly team at Custom Hearing solutions is here to support you through the process. Contact us today for a consultation.