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 technology actually seek help. Many people do not seek treatment options for their hearing loss until they have difficulty communicating in all situations of their life.

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

There is also a strong link between the severity of hearing loss and the likelihood of developing dementia or Alzheimer’s disease. Individuals with mild hearing loss were twice as likely to develop dementia when compared to those with normal hearing, those with moderate hearing loss were three times more likely, and those with severe hearing loss had five times the risk (Dr. Lin, Johns Hopkins University).

Additionally, hearing loss often occurs alongside cognitive and memory disorders. Typically, hearing loss is ignored when diagnosing for specific cognitive disorders; however, hearing status should be determined before pursuing any diagnostic protocol for cognitive disorders.

It is no surprise that 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 impacted, 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

Hearing loss is an invisible disability — and usually, a hearing loss and its effects are more noticeable than hearing aids. At Fauquier Hearing Services, our hearing treatment plans and recommended technologies help our patients process incoming sound and make it easier for their brains to understand the signal. Moreover, our treatments and plans can help reduce mental fatigue, decrease feelings of social isolation, depression, and the possibility of developing early-onset dementia; they improve your ability to multi-task, improve memory and attention, and enhance communication skills. Not only do our hearing treatment plans and respective hearing technologies improve the quality of life for the hearing-impaired individual, but they have similar impacts for their spouse and loved ones, as well.

The best approach is treating a hearing loss early. Call us to schedule a hearing evaluation today and see what we can do to help! We can be reached at 540.724.0086.

By Dr. Wendy Thorne, on behalf of Dr. Diane Markva and the Staff at Fauquier Hearing Services