The Consequences of Untreated Hearing Loss

Dr Bert Brown MD in Cleveland OHRecent figures have revealed nearly a doubling of hearing loss in the United States over the past 3 decades.  Although people are becoming more aware of hearing loss there are still many people who do not seek help for their problem thinking they are getting by fine.  However, there are other potential consequences of untreated hearing loss that can affect a person’s mental, emotional and physical health.  These potential effects underscore the importance of correcting one’s hearing problems whenever possible.  The following associations have been identified:

  1. Depression and isolation – When an individual can’t hear well, particularly in group situations, they will often try to avoid those situations.  As a result, people with hearing problems will avoid being with groups including family and friends.  This can lead to isolation and potential depression.
  2. Dementia – In a person with hearing loss, portions of the brain related to sound processing get decreased use.  As a result, those portions of the brain may sometimes shut off and a person may become less aware and interactive in the world around them.  This can enhance and even contribute to dementia and Alzheimer’s disease.
  3. Memory and cognitive function – As noted already, an individual with hearing loss may have portions of the brain shut off.  In addition, when someone struggles to hear they are using up some of the brain power making less available for memory and cognitive function.  Some studies have shown that correcting hearing loss with hearing aids has led to improved memory and cognitive function.

Many people are not aware of the consequences of hearing loss noted above.  It’s more than just hearing less around you.  Many things begin to deteriorate as we age.  In the case of hearing loss, most people can do something to help that problem.  When we consider the other consequences, it’s definitely time to get your hearing checked. If there is a hearing loss, get the problem corrected as much as possible.  In doing so, you are taking better care of your mental, emotional and physical health.

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