How you cope with hearing loss is unique to you and influenced by certain factors, such as early versus late onset, gradual vs. sudden, the severity of the loss, and your personality. Regardless of these factors, evidence shows untreated hearing loss can cause significant problems. Negative repercussions include feelings of depression, anxiety, frustration, social isolation, and physical health issues such as injuries from falls. Some studies have demonstrated a clear cause and effect, while others have found a statistically significant association between untreated hearing loss and specific physical and mental health conditions.
Mild hearing impairment nearly doubles the risk of developing dementia. This risk is threefold with moderate hearing loss and fivefold when hearing loss is severe. Increasing evidence suggests a strong link between age-related hearing loss and late-life cognitive issues. And age-related hearing loss that starts in middle age appears to increase the risk of developing Alzheimer’s disease and dementia in older age. Studies suggest peripheral hearing alterations associated with age-related hearing loss increase the risk of cognitive impairment due to:
A 2019 study found a strong link between age-related hearing loss and a decline in visual short-term memory binding (VSTMB). VTSMB is a potential biomarker for preclinical dementia linked to Alzheimer’s disease.
Additional research is needed to pinpoint the precise links between hearing loss and cognitive issues. Nevertheless, strong evidence suggests early intervention, lifestyle changes, and hearing loss management and correction could delay or prevent a third of Alzheimer’s diagnoses worldwide.
of people with mild to greater hearing loss suffer from depression
A well-researched theory is that hearing impairment leads to social isolation, loneliness, and depression. When it’s difficult to communicate, this can greatly limit your ability to socialize and cause social withdrawal and depression. Studies indicate age-related hearing loss is among the most common chronic conditions associated with late-life depression, particularly in women. Several studies have shown a direct correlation between a person’s degree of hearing loss and depressive symptoms. In a large scale study, the prevalence of depression was 4.9% in people with excellent hearing, but this increased to 11.4% in those with mild to greater hearing loss.
Even mild hearing loss triples the risk of an accidental fall, and this risk increases by 140% for every additional 10 decibels of hearing loss. This is a serious matter, because death rates in older adults related to falls increased 30% from 2007 to 2016 and contribute to more than $50 billion each year in medical costs. Hearing loss negatively impacts a person’s balance in the following ways:
Many of the detrimental side effects of hearing loss are preventable by treating it. If you or a loved one is suffering from hearing loss, don’t take this lightly. Schedule an appointment with a licensed hearing care professional to help prevent hearing loss from cascading into a wide array of other serious health problems.
It's time to finally treat your hearing loss. Sign up for a free consultation with a licensed hearing care professional today to determine if you have hearing loss. It’s the start of your journey towards better hearing.