Reviewed by Dr. Porter on August 16, 2022
The best time for treating hearing loss is always now. Whether hearing loss occurs at the age of six months or the age of 106, the sooner hearing problems are treated, the less damage they will do to the quality of life. In this article, we will tell you seven things you need to know about the timely treatment of hearing loss.
How Does Hearing Loss Affect Your Life?
Hearing loss can affect your life in ways you would never expect.
For instance, older people are more likely to stub a toe while they are walking around the house at night if they have hearing loss. More importantly, people with uncorrected hearing loss are more likely to suffer falls. Our hearing provides us with subtle cues about our environment. We get so used to information from hearing that we don’t have to think about it. But when you can’t hear well, or you use a hearing aid that you didn’t get with the help of a professional audiologist, you are more prone to falls and other kinds of accidents.
Of course, the effects of hearing loss doesn’t just increase the risk of avoidable accidents.
Hearing loss has an impact on learning in children.
Children who get lots of ear infections don’t suffer permanent loss of hearing as a result. But the effects of temporary hearing loss can add up as they fall behind in their classes and miss out on opportunities for fun and time with their friends. Researchers have confirmed that children with untreated hearing problems from ear infections fall behind in both reading and math.
Hearing loss affects kids on the playground, too. One study found that children with uncorrected hearing issues were twice as likely to be injured at play.
It isn’t just ear infections that affect hearing in children. A study published in the Journal of the American Medical Association found that about one in 20 teens has hearing loss caused by excessive exposure to loud music. Hearing loss gives teenagers attention issues that make them three times as likely to drop out of school before they graduate.
In adults, uncorrected hearing loss results in lower income, earlier retirement, and a shorter working career.
Most working adults aren’t in danger of losing their jobs when they start having hearing issues. But adults with uncorrected hearing problems are more likely to be “encouraged” to take early retirement. They are also more likely to be laid off during an economic downturn.
Adults over 45 who have uncorrected hearing issues are more likely to lose paid time on work or use sick leave and vacation due to “mental health days.” Managerial studies have found that working people who need hearing correction use up their sick leave faster. When people with hearing problems get sick, they need longer to get well. Uncorrected hearing problems have a wide range of subtle effects that add up to major difficulties on the job and with a career.
But hearing loss doesn’t just interfere with your performance on the job. Consider these facts about hearing loss in adults.
- Couples in which one partner has severe hearing loss get divorced at four times the rate of couples in which both partners have normal hearing.
- Hearing loss may predispose people to a life of crime. Prison inmates under the age of 40 have hearing loss at six times the rate of the rest of the population.
- Women with hearing loss are twice as likely to be unemployed or underemployed as women with women with normal hearing.
- Adults with hearing loss are 50 percent more likely to have years of unemployment or underemployment in which they earn $20,000 or less.
And, after age 60, untreated hearing loss is associated with dementia.
Does Untreated Hearing Loss Lead to Dementia?
There is strong evidence that untreated hearing loss in older adults greatly increases the risk of dementia.
A hearing loss researcher at Johns Hopkins University named Dr. Frank Lin followed the health of 639 older adults for 12 years. The patients in his study sample who had mild hearing loss were twice as likely to develop dementia as those who had no hearing loss. Adults with moderate hearing loss were three times as likely to develop Alzheimer’s or some other form of dementia. And Dr. Lin found that older adults with profound hearing loss were five times as likely to develop some form of dementia.
Every 10 decibels of hearing loss doubled the risk of a dementia diagnosis. Dr. Lin backed up his findings with brain scans. As Dr. Lin described his findings in an interview with a Johns Hopkins newsletter, “Brain scans demonstrate that hearing loss contributes to a faster rate of brain atrophy. “Hearing loss leads to social isolation. When you lose your hearing, you don’t want to be with people as much, and you don’t engage in conversations as much. Your brain does not get the ‘exercise’ it needs to fight off the changes that lead to dementia.”
Studies with mice have found that stimulation from sound prevents the formation of amyloid plaques on the neurons of the brain, a marker for Alzheimer’s disease. Good hearing seems to promote brain health.
So, let’s review:
- Older adults who have uncorrected hearing problems are more likely to suffer falls.
- Children who have uncorrected hearing problems get lower test scores in reading and math.
- Children who have uncorrected hearing problems are more likely to be injured on the playground.
- Adults with uncorrected hearing problems earn less and are more likely to have to retire early.
- Uncorrected hearing loss is associated with slower recovery from all kinds of diseases.
- Uncorrected hearing loss is associated with the development of dementia. In the study we mentioned above, about one in 10 adults with unaddressed hearing issues was diagnosed with Alzheimer’s disease.
- But good hearing can help keep your brain physically healthy.
Is It Ever Too Late for a Hearing Aid?
It’s never too late to get a hearing aid. No matter how many opportunities you have missed while your hearing problems remained uncorrected, a hearing test and the right hearing aid prescribed by a professional audiologist can help you reconnect with the world for the best possible quality of life now.
Harbor Audiology & Hearing Services Inc. can prescribe the hearing aid you need with the look you want at a price you can afford. Don’t put off the hearing care you need. Let Harbor Audiology & Hearing Services Inc. help. Contact us at 253-999-9649 or text us at 253-338-5181 to schedule the care you need.
Categorised in: Hearing Loss Treatment