The Effects of Untreated Hearing Loss

Roughly 36 million Americans (about 17% of the adult population) have a hearing loss. However, only 20% of those individuals who could benefit from hearing aids actually seek help. Many people do not seek treatment options for their hearing loss until they have difficulty communicating in all situations in their life.

Leaving a hearing loss untreated can lead to other unpleasant effects. A nationwide survey of 4,000 adults with hearing loss and their significant others revealed significantly higher rates of depression and anxiety in those who had not received hearing aids versus the individuals who were fit with and consistently wore hearing aids.1

There is also a strong link between the severity of hearing loss and developing dementia and Alzheimer’s. Individuals with mild hearing loss were twice as likely to develop dementia when compared to normal-hearing individuals, those with moderate hearing loss were three times more likely, and those with severe hearing loss had five times the risk.(2)

Additionally, there is a comorbidity among hearing loss and cognitive and memory disorders. Typically, hearing loss is ignored when diagnosing for specific cognitive disorders; however, hearing status should be determined prior to pursuing any diagnostic protocol for cognitive disorders.

It is no surprise hat hearing loss and vision impairment negatively affect social participation and daily activities. When an individual has both a hearing loss and vision impairment, they experience the greatest difficulty in day-to-day activities, proving that when both sensory systems are affected, the individual is less able to compensate.

Other side effects of untreated hearing loss can include:

  • Irritability
  • Fatigue
  • Stress
  • Loneliness and social rejection
  • Reduced alertness and increased risk to personal safety
  • Reduced job performance and earning power
  • Diminished psychological and overall health.(1)

Hearing loss is an invisible handicap — and usually, a hearing loss and its effects are more noticeable than hearing aids. Hearing aids help process incoming sound and make it easier for your brain to understand the signal. Hearing aids also help reduce mental fatigue, decrease feelings of social isolation and depression, improve your ability to multi-task, improve memory and attention, enhance communication skills, and reduce the possibility of developing early-onset dementia. Not only do hearing aids improve the quality of life for the individual but also for their spouse and loved ones as well. The best approach is treating a hearing loss early. Call us at 540.724.0086 to schedule a hearing evaluation today and see what we can do to help!

Author: Dr. Wendy N. Thorne, Audiologist – Fauquier Hearing Services, Warrenton, Virginia

  1. Better Hearing Institute. Consequences of hearing loss. 2015.

  2. Lin F, Metter EJ, O’Brien RJ, Resnick SM, Zonderman AB, Ferrucci L. Hearing loss and incident dementia. Arch Neurol. 2011;68(2)214–220.