Your hearing is a sense you use every day in nearly every situation. So, why is it that hearing loss, which effects so many aspects of our life and health often goes untreated? People often ignore or procrastinate on hearing issues, even as hearing loss makes a negative impact on their lives.
Treating hearing loss is important and can make a big difference in your health. Understanding the issues related to untreated hearing loss can help you understand why treatment is an important investment to make for your health and quality of life. With the advancements of modern hearing aids, assistive technology is discrete and more powerful than ever before.
Hearing Loss and Communication
When you lose some of your hearing, you lose a key component in how you interact with those around you. From neighbors and coworkers to good friends, partners and family, our hearing keeps us connected to what’s going on. If our ability to hear is compromised, suddenly listening and responding to others becomes difficult and frustrating.
Treating hearing loss gives you a lot of assistance when it comes to staying in the conversation. High quality hearing aids are programmed to specifically boost the frequencies of sound you need help hearing. Modern hearing aids also make features available like tinnitus relief therapy and streaming sound from your smartphone directly to your ear, making clarity and comprehension easier.
Hearing Loss and Mental Health
Boosting your ability to communication is one of the most obvious benefits of treating hearing loss, but what few people realize is that this skill is very tethered to our quality of life and mental health. People with untreated hearing loss are overly susceptible to anxiety, depression and social isolation.
Tied into the frustration and challenges that hearing loss can bring, many common social situations can become very stressful. Even activities that you once enjoyed, like attending concerts or going out to dinner can be overwhelming when you try to participate with untreated hearing loss. The strain of trying to comprehend sound often strips the pleasure and ease from communication, leaving in its wake feelings of anxiety as you struggle to keep up.
For many people, hearing loss subtly changes their behavior patterns and trains them away from social activities where their hearing problems will be an issue. These choices can seem natural, but they have the effect of being socially restrictive. Hearing loss also limits the mobility people are comfortable travelling, preferring to stay away from unfamiliar environments. With the social limitations that untreated hearing loss encourages, social isolation can quickly become an issue.
All the factors that can encourage anxiety and isolation can also make us more vulnerable to depression. A major part of our mental well-being involves feeling understood by others. Unaddressed hearing loss can easily muddle this feeling, making us uncertain of how well we understand others and our comprehended ourselves. Feelings of despair and depression can root in feeling cut off from our support systems, community, and the things and people we enjoy being around.
Hearing Loss and Physical Health
It isn’t just our quality of life that can be affected by hearing loss. Hearing is part of the way our entire body functions and the role that it plays can create issues in many other aspects of our bodily health.
Especially important is the cognitive impact of hearing loss. When hearing loss is untreated, our brain has to strain to keep up with incoming speech and sounds. Hearing loss means we’re only receiving part of the sound signals we’re used to. To keep up, the mind has to fill in the blanks quickly. To do this, the mind overwrites old patterns and pulls in extra cognitive resources from other parts of the brain. The extra effort required to listen is part of what can make it physically exhausting to manage hearing loss.
The stress placed on our cognitive function has other serious effects as well. Because cognitive focus is pulled away from other tasks like balance and coordination, the risk of having a fall or accident is much higher for people with untreated hearing loss. Essentially, hearing loss distracts you from being able to maneuver your body to prevent injury.
There is also a connection between cognitive strain created by hearing loss and a greater risk of dementia and Alzheimer’s disease. Not only does hearing loss detract from our cognitive functioning, when patients with dementia and hearing loss treated their hearing loss, their cognitive skills improved.
Treating Hearing Loss
That’s the good news: while most hearing loss is permanent, most hearing loss can also be effectively treated with hearing aids and assistive technology. Better still, treating hearing loss improves your hearing and your quality of life. Ready to get started? We’re here to help – contact Swift Audiology today!