Importance of Early Detection and Treatment
Many people think hearing loss is not a big deal—“I just turn up the volume on the TV and have my friends repeat themselves.” In truth, even the partial loss of this essential sense can have dramatic and, in some cases, irreversible consequences. According to the Better Hearing Institute (BHI), studies have linked untreated hearing loss to:
- irritability, negativism and anger
- fatigue, tension, stress and depression
- avoidance or withdrawal from social situations
- social rejection and loneliness
- reduced alertness and increased risk to personal safety
- impaired memory and ability to learn new tasks
- reduced job performance and earning power
- diminished psychological and overall health
Studies have shown accelerated rates of brain atrophy in individuals with hearing loss when compared to individuals with normal hearing. Dr. Frank Lin from John Hopkins University investigated and followed individuals with hearing loss and with normal hearing. His results showed that those with hearing loss had brain shrinkage in particular areas of the brain responsible for processing sound and speech. This might be a consequence of what he calls impoverished auditory cortex due to lack of sound stimulation.
His research focused on the effects of hearing loss, finding that people with hearing loss, even a mild hearing loss, are at three times the risk of falling. As the severity of the loss increases, the risk of falling increases as well- by 1.4 times.
Furthermore, hearing loss’s recent link to dementia is another public health concern in the adult population.
Hearing loss is the third most common health problem in the U.S., and untreated hearing loss puts the adult population at a risk of decreasing their health and quality of life.