Many times, hearing loss is a gradual process that comes with getting older. It often goes untreated due to lack of knowledge or negligence – it takes up to seven years after the first signs of hearing loss for the sufferer to get treatment.
However, hearing loss is a major public health issue – about half of adults older than 65 have measurable hearing impairment – that only worsens over time and can affect many other parts of your life including damaging social, psychological and cognitive effects. Many of these side effects can have far reaching implications that go beyond damaged hearing. Below are some of the ways untreated hearing loss can have damaging effects on other parts of your life.
Untreated hearing loss can have damaging effects on brain development. Older adults who suffer from hearing loss experience brain function decline 30-40% faster than adults without hearing loss. Other cognitive risks related to hearing loss include:
- reduced alertness and increased risk to personal safety
- impaired memory and ability to learn new tasks
- reduced job performance and earning power
Hearing loss can also have damaging effects on the sufferer’s social life and can be psychologically taxing. Hearing loss can limit your ability to engage with and communicate with friends and family members. This may strain relationships and cause the sufferer to feel isolated, lonely and can sometimes lead to depression. The other effects of hearing loss on one’s day-to-day life include:
- Embarrassment, shame and guilt
- Irritability, negativity and anger
- Problems participating in or avoidance of social situations
- Problems communicating with family and coworkers
- Fatigue, tension, stress and depression
- Self-criticism and low self-esteem/confidence
- Lack of concentration
The related effects of hearing loss are vast and will only worsen over time. If you or a loved one is experiencing hearing loss, it’s important to see a professional to get a hearing test and discuss your treatment options. Treating hearing loss early and effectively can help improve your hearing and prevent long-term damage to your ears.
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