Hearing loss is often difficult to recognize at first. This is because it is a progressive condition. By the time many identify their hearing loss, it has gotten so extreme that it’s a challenge to listen even in the most ideal listening situations. The danger with letting this condition progress this far is there are dangerous side effects to hearing that reach far beyond your ears.
Hearing occurs in the ears, but is processed and understood in the brain. When hearing becomes damaged, the brain stops receiving the information to hear in conversation and navigate the world. Letting hearing loss sneak up on you or a loved one can create more serious issues further on.
Know the Signs of Hearing Loss
While most hearing loss is permanent, it can be treated efficiently using hearing aids. Hearing aids amplify the specific sounds, pitches and tones, which have declined and send them directly to your inner ear to be effectively registered with your existing hearing. The problem is that of people 70 and older who could benefit from hearing aids, less than 30% have ever used them.
If you or someone you love has to ask for sentences or phrases to be repeated, if there is trouble hearing over phone or video chat, or there are constant debates over the level of the TV or radio, then these are the most common signs of hearing loss. Know the signs of hearing loss so you can self diagnose hearing issues or those of your loved ones. The longer hearing loss goes on, the worse dangerous side effects of hearing loss can progress.
Dangers of Untreated Hearing Loss
It is too common for people to avoid dealing with their hearing loss. In fact it takes people 7-10 years on average from the time they first suspect they have hearing loss to seek treatment. Unfortunately this can create many problems, some of which are irreversible.
Healthy hearing allows you to hear the world around you. When hearing becomes compromised it is difficult to hear warning sounds, clues about the space you’re in and the direction in which the sound is coming from. This can increase the likeliness of accidents, falls, hospitalizations and even death.
A Communication Issue
Because hearing loss is a communication issue it can be very exhausting and frustrating to hold regular conversation. This affects relationships at home and at work. Relationships with significant others become strained as resentment over miscommunication causes rifts.
In the workplace those with untreated hearing loss are more likely to be passed over for promotions and raises. It is all too common for untreated hearing loss to lead to depression, anxiety and sleeplessness. People may choose to isolate and avoid social situations all together rather than deal with the stress of constant miscommunication.
Hearing Loss and Dementia
The importance of staying social is important to people of all ages, but as we approach the age of 65 a regular social life can protect our brain health significantly.
Studies have found that the risk of dementia increases for those who have moderate and greater hearing loss by 36%. This is part due to the lack of stimulation the brain receives due to self-imposed isolation that often accompanies untreated hearing loss in seniors. A study from Johns Hopkins found that seniors with untreated hearing loss are more likely to develop hearing loss sooner.
The study found that the risk of dementia is related to the degree of hearing loss. Those with mild hearing loss are almost twice as likely to develop dementia compared with someone with normal hearing but as hearing loss becomes moderate the risk elevates three fold, while those with severe hearing loss have a five fold risk of developing dementia. For every 10-decibel increase in hearing loss, the risk for dementia jumps by 20%.
Deal with Your Hearing Loss Now!
The sooner you invest in hearing aids, the sooner you can start hearing clearly and avoid the danger and anguish of strains on your cherished relationships, risk of accidents and the lower your risk of dementia. When you screen for hearing loss regularly you can identify and treat hearing loss before it becomes a more serious issue. Make an appointment today to have your hearing tested and stay on top of your health for now and for the future.