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Senior Reading Hearing Loss Article

What Are the Long-Term Effects of Untreated Hearing Loss?

An average person has hearing capabilities within the 0-15 decibel range. While a 20-decibel threshold is at the far end of the hearing range, someone who can't hear sounds lower than 20 decibels is considered to have borderline hearing loss. According to the National Institutes of Health, 1 in 8 people suffer some type of hearing loss. This includes everyone 12 years and older, accounting for hearing loss in one or both ears. Since hearing loss can be minor, it's essential to understand the consequences of letting hearing loss go untreated.

The Mental Health Consequences of Ignoring Hearing Loss

One of the earliest consequences of untreated hearing loss is the loss of social support. People of all ages who suffer from hearing loss will find it difficult to socialize with others. As a result, they may become more withdrawn and isolated. Since hearing loss can affect speech and communication skills, children and adults may struggle to express themselves.

As a result of smaller social circles, people with hearing loss are more likely to experience depression. Individuals with hearing loss can't express themselves as effortlessly, so they might feel frustrated or overwhelmed in a social setting. This leads to higher stress, loneliness, and emotional health issues.

Understanding the Long-Term Impact

In many cases, hearing loss results from damage to the inner ear. The damage can result from long-term exposure to loud noises or puncturing the ear with foreign objects. Once there is damage, hearing loss will gradually worsen over time. You can slow this type of progressive hearing loss with treatment.

Since hearing loss leads to social isolation and emotional health issues, seniors with hearing loss are more likely to suffer from dementia. Additionally, a loss of hearing adversely affects balance and coordination. Some research suggests a link between cardiovascular disease and hearing loss. If the heart isn't pushing enough oxygen-rich blood to the arteries in the ears, this can result in hearing loss. Regular hearing screenings can help you uncover a heart problem early.

Strategies for Prevention and Early Intervention

The best way to identify hearing loss early is by scheduling regular hearing screenings. As a general rule, you should have your hearing tested every three to five years. Annual screenings are best if you have already suffered hearing loss or face an increased risk for hearing loss.

You may be able to prevent hearing loss by following a few simple tips:

  • Consult your doctor about the proper way to clean your ears
  • Avoid loud noises whenever possible
  • Listen to music at a lower volume (60-80 decibels) level
  • Wear ear protection when avoiding loud noises isn't possible

You should also be aware that some medications can increase the risk of hearing loss. Consult your doctor about your concerns before starting a new medication.

Real-life Stories and Insights

Krista began losing her hearing when she was 17 years old. After a year, she was completely deaf in one ear. Although she began using a hearing aid, she found that she gradually lost hearing in her other ear. Before long, she was deaf in both ears. Today, she's grateful for technologies that help her stay connected. She relies on closed captioning, text messaging, email, and other services in her daily life.

Anne Madison is a senior with progressive hearing loss. She recalls that the condition was once considered medically harmless, and few people sought treatment. She was among them. Yet, she experienced isolation, depression, and anxiety as a result of her hearing loss. She said she felt disconnected from society, resorting to turning the volume up on her T.V. just to feel connected.

Dr. Paul Mick, an otolaryngologist, commented on the effects of untreated hearing loss on seniors. He noted that older adults feel embarrassed and ashamed to admit they have suffered hearing loss. Dr. Mick urges his patients to come forward when they think they're experiencing hearing loss. Seeking treatment early can preserve your hearing and stave off the cognitive impairments caused by hearing loss.

Understand Your Hearing Health

Even minor hearing loss can affect your ability to enjoy life, socialize with others, and make meaningful connections. Untreated hearing loss can also affect other physical health conditions and lead to serious problems with your cardiovascular system, cognitive functioning, balance, and other essential biological systems. Regular hearing screenings can help you identify problems with your hearing and get treatment sooner. Contact Beltone Skoric Hearing Aid Center to schedule your free hearing screening today.