Forty-eight million Americans and almost 477 million people worldwide have experienced a hearing loss, according to the Hearing Health Foundation, but many of them are doing nothing about it. It astounds me that so many people struggle with the condition when so many treatment options are available. Worse yet, untreated hearing loss can lead to major negative health risks, impacting quality of life, independence, and overall well-being.
Decreased Energy Levels
Do you ever feel drained at the end of the day? Lethargy and feelings of extreme fatigue often result from straining to follow conversations with others. Along with higher levels of fatigue are chronic headaches and increased stress, which negatively impacts a broad range of serious health conditions.
Lower energy levels also contribute to a desire to withdraw from social activities, family and friends, and it could even begin to affect your performance at work.
Processing sounds is one of the functions of your brain. In the same way that muscles atrophy from disuse, so does your brain when it is unable to process the full range of sounds it is accustomed to processing. Brain atrophy from any cause leads to cognitive decline. However, cognitive decline caused by hearing loss carries the additional risk of being a major contributor to the development of dementia.
Health issues are a great concern to all of us, but they pale in comparison to the value of our relationships with family, friends, and work colleagues. Because communication is an essential element in nurturing our relationships, hearing loss has a significant negative impact on maintaining healthy relationships. Decreased energy, cognitive decline, withdrawal from conversations, and misunderstandings are all destructive forces on relationships, which result from untreated hearing loss.
An inability to follow verbal instructions or absorbing critical bits of information at work contributes to decreasing your productivity and efficiency at work. Not being able to communicate well with your colleagues and superiors can result in poor performance and missed opportunities for promotion, thereby stagnating or destroying your career.
Mental Health Issues
Cognitive decline fatigue, strained relationships, and difficulties at work due to hearing loss that continues to go untreated contribute to mental health issues as well. The combined results of these problems lead to increased stress, anxiety, and depression. These mental health issues compound in a downward spiral with increasingly worse physical and mental health consequences.
Higher Healthcare Costs
Adults with an untreated hearing loss have considerably higher healthcare costs, according to studies conducted by Johns Hopkins University. When examining healthcare costs over a 10-year period, the study indicated that those with an untreated hearing loss spent an additional $22,000 in overall healthcare expenses.
There are some costs related to untreated hearing loss, which reach beyond those measured in dollars. When hearing loss remains untreated in children, it has a significant effect on language and speech development, self-esteem, and academic performance, limiting career choices, independence, and quality of life. It is impossible to calculate the cost of these consequences.
Having your hearing checked regularly and making certain that your children have regular hearing exams is extremely important to overall health. This is especially true for individuals diagnosed with cardiovascular disease or diabetes as well as anyone over the age of 50. The team at Sound Audiology and Hearing Aids and I are passionate about providing our clients in Kennewick, WA and the Tri-Cities area with treatment for hearing loss and minimizing its impact.