In our society, there’s a popular myth about hearing loss that needs to be dispelled. As an audiologist, I regularly see the negative impact this myth has made on people’s lives. Here’s the myth: It’s okay to ignore hearing loss.
Unfortunately, the reality is not treating your hearing loss can be quite harmful. There are long term effects of untreated hearing loss that can have consequences for most areas of your life. Yet, there’s also good news. Hearing loss is very treatable. If you’re experiencing untreated hearing loss, we’re available to help you.
The long term effects of untreated hearing loss can significantly reduce your quality of life. Untreated hearing loss can have severe long term effects in these areas of your life.
Untreated hearing loss takes a toll on your personal relationships. People with hearing loss and their loved ones tend to experience frequent misunderstandings due to miscommunication. Everyone involved becomes frustrated with the situation. Often, the result is people with hearing loss and their loved ones reduce their attempts to talk to each other. As it becomes increasingly difficult to engage in conversations at social gatherings, many people with hearing loss stop attending social functions. Those who continue to avoid treatment may find themselves feeling the painful effects of loneliness and depression.
Several studies have shown untreated hearing loss has a negative impact on your financial well-being. In particular, a study by researchers with Johns Hopkins University showed someone with hearing loss had greater chances of being underemployed or unemployed than typically hearing individuals. Also, the same study found people with hearing loss tend to have lower incomes than their typically hearing counterparts.
Not treating hearing loss isn’t good for your overall health. People with untreated hearing loss have more hospital stays and greater healthcare costs than individuals without untreated hearing loss. An increased risk of walking problems, balance problems, and falls is also associated with untreated hearing loss.
A decline in cognitive (brain) function is also linked to untreated hearing loss. There’s a higher risk of memory loss and dementia. Scientists are still trying to determine what happens in the brain to cause the strong connection between hearing loss and cognitive issues. It’s possible that since you’re not engaging in as many conversations as you used to, you’re not using your brain enough to keep it strong.
Good News: Treating Hearing Loss Has a Positive Effect
We don’t want to leave you feeling hopeless about hearing loss. Treating your hearing loss can improve your quality of life even if you have begun to experience one or more of the long term effects of untreated hearing loss. The potential benefits of treating hearing loss with hearing aids include:
- Lower risk of falls
- Improved brain health
- Less loneliness
- Decreased risk of depression
Now that you know the importance of treating hearing loss, we hope you won’t believe the myth that’s it’s okay to ignore hearing loss. At SLENT Hearing & Balance Center, we know how to help. Contact us to schedule an appointment.