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Hearing loss is one of the leading chronic health conditions in the United States. Roughly one in eight Americans over the age of twelve shows hearing loss in both ears during standard hearing tests. And a number of experts believe that the rate of hearing loss will increase, even among young people, as Millennials and Gen Z grow older.
When surveyed, a majority of people believe that healthy hearing is an important aspect of a vibrant life. 70 percent of respondents in the American Speech-Language-Hearing survey conducted in 2021 recognized that “untreated hearing loss can lead to feelings of social isolation and nearly as many realize it can lead to feelings of depression.”
And yet, the average person waits ten years before they choose to pursue intervention for hearing loss. While hearing loss is largely irreversible, it remains highly treatmentable and there is a strong case for the life changing impact of treating hearing loss.
Rates of depression are proven to increase when hearing loss is present. While the link remains true, specific data varies. In some studies, people with hearing loss are twice as likely to experience depression. In others, they can be up to 47 percent more likely. What we know for sure is that depression is a likely outcome of living with hearing loss.
There are many reasons experts believe emotional health is impacted by hearing loss, but it helps to remember that at its core, hearing loss interrupts connection with others. Humans are social creatures and social connection is a foundation of wellbeing.
Among people who wear hearing aids, one of the most reported outcomes is improved relationships. Intervening in hearing loss with a proven solution like hearing aids, a cochlear implant or an assistive listening device can bring back those moments of casual connection that make up our closest relationships.
Chats over dinner, watching a television show together or heading out to catch a concert or theater production are all ways that we engage in deepening our bonds with one another.
On the other side of this, qualitative research has shown that frustration (experienced by both parties) is a common side effect of untreated hearing loss within marriages.
More Mobility, Better Balance
People who treat hearing loss are more likely to remain in better physical health, stay more mobile and may even get a boost with balance. As studies continue to assess the connection with balance and hearing loss, some findings show that hearing aids do help us find firming footing. It may have to do with the fact that the hearing and balance systems interact within the ear, sharing the same nerve pathway to the brain. But it may also have to do with the ways that sound cues play a role in helping us orient ourselves in space.
Overall Health Savings
One of the barriers people cite in their decision to delay hearing health intervention is cost. However, the cost of choosing not to treat hearing loss can outweigh the savings, making it a penny wise and pound foolish decision.
A study from John Hopkins revealed that on average, people with untreated hearing loss spent almost 50 percent more on healthcare than folks without hearing loss.
Lower Dementia Risk
One of the most persuasive reasons to confront hearing loss and investigate potential solutions like hearing aids might just be the ways that leaving hearing untreated significantly increases the risk of a future dementia diagnosis.
The Lancet Commission includes hearing health as one of its twelve modifiable factors in preventing hearing loss. Among other lifestyle adjustments, this panel of experts emphasize the importance of seeking treatment for hearing loss.
Numerous studies have proven the link between dementia and hearing health. Mild hearing loss increases the risk of dementia, moderate hearing loss triples it and people with severe hearing loss were five times more likely to experience a cognitive decline like dementia or Alzheimer’s.
Schedule A Hearing Consultation
We make it easy to check in on your current hearing health. Schedule a hearing consultation today with our highly trained team and we’ll lead you through the simple steps of a hearing exam. From there, we’ll guide you through your results and discuss whether you’re a good candidate for hearing health treatment.