Many people of all ages struggle with their hearing. Almost two-thirds of adults age 70 or older experience a hearing loss.* Children can have hearing losses as well, and their families are typically quick to respond and get help. This makes good sense. When children do not hear well, they experience developmental delays, and academic and social difficulties. Fortunately, hearing loss is usually a treated health problem, and children make great strides when they receive help. Perhaps unsurprisingly, many adults who struggle with hearing loss are slow to seek treatment for their condition. They tend to live with the issue for a long time before getting relief. Unfortunately, untreated hearing loss is a serious problem that no one should ignore. The consequences are just too serious. Studies show that many problems can arise when an adult becomes hard of hearing and does not address the issue.
If you or a loved one is experiencing hearing issues, please read on and consider the ramifications of untreated hearing loss.
Dementia and Cognitive Health – Dementia is one of the most alarming medical problems recently linked with hearing loss. In 2013, Dr. Frank Lin of Johns Hopkins showed that older adults with a hearing loss have a substantially increased risk of dementia. In fact, if you compare hard of hearing individuals to those with normal hearing, the risk of dementia is two to five times greater (depending on the severity of hearing loss) for those who are hard of hearing. There is also a 30-40% incidence of accelerated cognitive decline when older adults are hard of hearing. *
Work Performance – A big problem with untreated hearing loss is its impact on hard of hearing adults’ work lives. Concrete evidence shows that people with untreated hearing loss will lose wages. The average annual estimated wage loss was $20,000 for those with untreated hearing loss.* It is difficult to function at peak performance if you can’t understand what is said at meetings or in calls, and you are unable to easily converse and interact with colleagues, clients or vendors. Not only is communication impaired; but also, mental fatigue, attention and focus problems, and feelings of stress can impede job performance. The study found that treating hearing loss reduced wage losses by 50%.
Conversations in Noise-Conversations in noisy places like restaurants or sports stadiums are difficult for everyone. Add hearing loss to the mix, and it can be very difficult to converse with or even understand friends, loved ones, and business associates at these locations. Untreated hearing loss can also make enjoying movies and concerts difficult. This can lead to stress, social isolation, embarrassment, irritability, and even depression. Friends and loved ones suffer too if these problems occur.
Personal Relationships – Problems can also occur when attempting private conversations, or with comfort issues, such as turning up the television too loud. The same issues of stress, embarrassment (am I speaking too loud, answering the right question, etc.), irritability, depression, and strain on relationships can occur.
Safety – Hard of hearing individuals may be unable to hear traffic, fire alarms, tornado sirens, carbon monoxide detectors and people trying to warn them of dangers.
Vocabulary – There is a cumulative effect to losing the ability to distinguish letters and sounds. Over time, people may find that they cannot understand words featured in their frequency of hearing loss, and may even start to have difficulty speaking certain words and sounds.
The bottom line: if you have hearing loss, treat it sooner rather than later. It can improve your life and avoid the many problems detailed above!
If you suspect you have a hearing loss, please make an appointment so Dr. Ullauri can assess your case. The testing is painless and only takes an hour – an hour well-spent! Remember hearing care is health care.
Posted by Amy Weber