The trend of people waiting an average of 7 years before seeking assistance with hearing loss is confusing and concerning. Problems with vision often result in immediate action being taken to assess the issue. Perhaps impaired vision is more quickly and directly impactful on daily living. Whatever the reason may be, waiting too long to get an accurate diagnosis and the right help for hearing loss can have dire consequences.
Impact of Untreated Hearing Loss
When loss of hearing is neglected a variety of physical, mental, and emotional complications may arise as a result. The best way to prevent these issues is to seek professional assistance as soon as any symptoms are noticed to get a proper diagnosis and an effective treatment plan.
There is a range of physical health problems that can become interconnected with hearing loss. Existing health conditions may put a person at a higher risk for sustaining hearing loss, or exacerbate the issue in individuals who are already struggling with hearing impairment.
Heart problems can put a person at a greater risk for low frequency hearing loss. Heart disease is typically characterized by restricted blood flow due to plaque buildup in the arteries. The inner ear is hugely dependent on consistent blood flow to achieve normal function. Insufficient blood flow deprives the auditory nerves of essential oxygen which can result in irreparable nerve damage.
Increased cases of type 2 diabetes continue to rise around the globe as poor nutrition and sedentary lifestyles become more prevalent. Diabetes is also directly linked to hearing loss as it can cause damage to nerves and blood vessels in the inner ear. Research on the issue indicates that people with diabetes are two times as likely to develop hearing loss than those without.
There is also the obvious concern for physical safety that comes with hearing loss. Hearing plays a large role in the body’s response to impending danger. It can be as simple as not being able to hear a car horn or shout of warning in time to avoid a physical accident.
Other disturbing effects of hearing loss include cognitive decline, impaired memory, and depression. Aural stimulation plays a big part in healthy brain function. When that stimulation is lacking, the brain may overcompensate resulting in strained concentration and chronic fatigue.
Studies show a clinically significant association between hearing loss and cognitive decline. In general, people with hearing loss exhibit a faster rate of cognitive decline and a greater risk of cognitive impairment including dementia. What causes this link is still not completely understood but it is speculated that physical changes in the brain and auditory system combined with reduced social and mental stimulation are responsible.
Social & Emotional Effects
The impact of hearing loss on social interaction and activity can be widespread and damaging. Untreated hearing loss can have a detrimental effect on relationships, work, and daily routines. Maintaining relationships can become quite challenging when everyday communication is a struggle. Hearing loss can also result in missed opportunities because of unclear communication. Social isolation and depression can ensue if the problem goes unchecked for long enough.
Dealing with hearing loss on a daily basis can be emotionally draining. Constantly struggling to maintain conversations and stay alert can result in chronic fatigue. When any of the five senses are inhibited it can put a heavy strain on health as the body attempts to restore balance to the system. We rely on effective hearing for much more than we realize in order to sustain an independent lifestyle.
Hearing Loss Treatment
Getting an accurate diagnosis and appropriate treatment can make a huge difference in the quality of daily life for individuals affected by hearing loss. Contact a hearing professional as soon as possible once hearing problems are observed to prevent the situation from spiralling out of control.