According to the American Academy of Audiology, hearing loss is the third most common health condition in the United States, after heart disease and arthritis. The Hearing Health Foundation found that the number of Americans living with hearing loss exceeds those living with Parkinson’s, epilepsy, Alzheimer’s disease, and diabetes combined! Yet, despite the pervasiveness of hearing loss, experts estimate that only 20 percent of those who need hearing aids have sought out appropriate medical treatment. Researchers are discovering a significant link between hearing loss and other health issues, such as cognition, dementia, depression, falling, hospitalization, mortality, and overall physical and mental health.
On the bright side, current studies show that people with hearing loss who use hearing aids see a fast improvement in their ability to listen and understand in many settings. Many report an enhancement in their relationships at home and work, in their social lives, and in their ability to communicate more effectively with loved ones and colleagues. Some even say that they feel more confident and active in the world.
The decision to treat or ignore hearing loss should be taken seriously. Why? Because hearing loss plays a significant role in many important issues that impact our quality of life and well-being, including five major components. Let’s explore them together.
1) Physical Health
It is thought that hearing loss may detract from environmental awareness, which increases the likelihood of tripping and falling. The National Council on Aging notes that “falls are the leading cause of fatal and non-fatal injuries for older Americans.” While no one knows how many falls are linked to hearing loss each year, researchers at Johns Hopkins Medicine have found that people with hearing loss are three times more likely to fall than those without hearing loss.
2) Mental Health
Dr. Frank Lin, a researcher at Johns Hopkins University, believes “if you want to address hearing loss well, do it sooner rather than later.” He recommends treating hearing loss before “brain structural changes take place.” A further study in conjunction with the National Institute on Aging found that seniors with hearing loss are significantly more likely to develop dementia over time than those who retain their hearing. The good news is that hearing aids help decrease atrophy while increasing hearing ability. New research further supports that treating hearing loss with hearing aids may slow the cognitive decline associated with hearing loss.
3) Relationships and Social Interactions
Untreated hearing loss can lead to social isolation, as the challenges of listening and feelings of “missing out” often cause people to withdraw from the friends, loved ones and activities that bring them joy. Social isolation is closely linked to numerous quality-of-life issues, including depression, illness, exhaustion and even shorter life spans. Treating hearing loss with hearing aids enables you to hear, participate, and ensure you don’t miss out on the people and activities that make life worth living.
4) Personal Safety
Missed or misheard signals like car horns, alarms and other warning alerts can endanger a person’s ability to stay safe and keep those around them safe. Adults caring for infants and young children need to know when their loved one is crying or in distress. Treating hearing loss with hearing aids enhances the awareness you experience of your surroundings and can help ensure you recognize every smoke detector, bike bell, emergency alert or distress call the first time it sounds.
5) Career and Income
Did you know that wearing hearing aids could actually increase your earning power? Research by the Better Hearing Institute found that untreated hearing loss can reduce your annual earnings by as much as $30,000. The study also found that correcting hearing loss with hearing aids was found to reduce the risk of decreased earnings by over 90 percent for people with mild hearing loss, and nearly 77 percent for those with moderate-to-severe hearing loss.
Why treat hearing loss now rather than later?
Identifying and addressing hearing loss early brings many benefits. From enhancing your quality of life, to helping protect against many health consequences linked to unaddressed hearing loss, the case for early treatment is strong. Be proactive and don’t delay in seeking help for hearing loss. Contact us at Pacific Hearing Care for a hearing exam and consultation!