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The most common forms of hearing loss are degenerative, meaning that they tend to get worse with time. Age-related hearing loss tends to progress throughout the senior years, and noise-induced hearing loss is a function of accumulated noise exposure over time. However, that degenerative quality doesn’t mean that you will eventually become deaf. Most people with these common forms of hearing loss experience a loss of hearing ability to a certain point.
With that threshold in mind, you might think you can avoid getting a hearing test and see how bad it gets. Some people even want to keep themselves from admitting hearing loss by trying to get by without aids. Although the tendency to deny an unfortunate reality is a very human quality, that avoidance can lead to much bigger problems. In the case of hearing loss, you will likely not become completely deaf, but other associated health problems can come about.
Among these problems, you might experience physical, mental, and cognitive health problems that stem from untreated hearing loss. Rather than letting the problem get worse, it is crucial that you get a test as soon as possible in order to get treatment when the time is right.
Hearing Loss and Physical Health
When you consider the biological reality of hearing loss, it might seem like it is isolated to the ears. Indeed, when the ears incur sound over the years, they can become damaged through that extended exposure. However, the body works together in remarkable ways, and untreated hearing loss can contribute to some other health concerns. In some cases, both hearing loss and other health problems seem to be caused by the same reality. Such is the case with cardiovascular disease, and one of the likely causes of both hearing loss and a heart attack is the common enemy of poor vascular health, including blocked arteries. In other cases, hearing loss seems to actually cause health problems. Accidents and injuries are much higher among those with hearing loss than those without it, and it seems like we use our hearing ability to orient toward potential threats in many cases.
Hearing Loss and Mental Health
The case of mental health is much more direct. Researchers have studied the relationship between hearing loss and mental health, wondering how much of conditions such as depression or anxiety are directly caused by hearing loss. It turns out that, although not the only cause of these mental health concerns, hearing loss can contribute directly. One of the ways that hearing loss causes mental health issues is through the tendency to socially isolate oneself. When communication becomes difficult, some people prefer to avoid situations in which hearing will be required. By sitting out on parties and social events, a person might feel like they can escape the pressure to converse, but social isolation comes with a cost to one’s mental health.
Hearing Loss and Cognitive Health
Social isolation also contributes to a condition that is highly correlated with hearing loss: dementia. Even among otherwise comparable groups of people in terms of age, demographics, and other health issues, those who have hearing loss are much more likely to develop dementia, and the pace of cognitive decline tends to be faster. Researchers are continuing to try to understand that connection, but one possibility has to do with social isolation. When a person is not carrying on regular verbal conversations, the brain does not get the stimulation it needs to remain healthy. Cognitive specialists even liken the brain to the muscles of the body that require exercise to stay in good shape.
As you can see, each of these side effects of hearing loss is quite serious, and these problems do tend to get worse without treatment. The relieving news is that getting treatment for hearing loss in the form of hearing aids wipes out the effect in many cases. Hearing aids make it possible to remain engaged with the world and actively involved in conversations, not only improving your sense of wellbeing but helping you navigate the world in a healthy way. Those effects on health are yet another reason to pursue a hearing test as soon as possible. We’re here to help – contact us today!