For anyone who suspects they are living with hearing loss it’s just all too easy to ignore hearing loss or deny that it is even an issue. However, once you explore the research, the reasons to deal with your hearing impairment are overwhelming. Untreated hearing loss has far reaching health impacts which span mental health, emotional health and physical well-being. As we explore the benefits of treating hearing loss, the findings are overwhelmingly in favor of treatment to improve quality of life.
When hearing loss goes untreated it can start to affect your everyday communication. This may not seem like a big deal, but as the years of poor communication continue to compile, this can affect your enjoyment of social interaction. Your most important and closest relationships may start to develop distance due to constant misunderstandings. For instance, the intimacy which many share with a significant other is grounding a healing. It is often casual and comfortable banter which helps us feel connected, often more than we realize. Inside jokes and the ease of understanding enforce our relationships. When hearing loss is treated, the comfort of communication with loved ones can resume, building connection in place of rifts.
Benefits for Your Career
In addition to an impact on your personal relationships, your relationships and performance at work are certainly put into jeopardy when you ignore treating a hearing loss. Misunderstandings during meetings or failure to hear instructions can easily cause co-workers and employers to value you less. While the American Disability Act prohibits discrimination based on hearing ability, you can only protect yourself if you are aware and open about this disability. Unfortunately for all too many, they avoid treating hearing loss which directly affects chances for promotions, raises and employment all together. The Hearing Health Foundation reports that “Hearing aids were shown to reduce the risk of income loss by 90 to 100% for those with milder hearing loss, and from 65 to 77% for those with moderate to severe hearing loss.”
Improved independence and safety
When a person lives with untreated hearing loss it is too common for a person to rely on others as a sort of interpreter. This may be friends, co-workers and very often spouses or life partners. This can make it much less likely for a person with untreated hearing loss to venture out on their own, forging their own connections and relationships, individually. In addition, healthy hearing allows people to be more aware of their environment. This includes more confidence when walking down a busy street or operating a motor vehicle. Studies have found that those with untreated hearing loss are much more likely to suffer falls and accidents, leading to hospitalization or even death. This is because healthy hearing not only helps us communicate but be more aware of the proximity and location of sounds. Wearing hearing aids can improve our alertness in the world and allow us to venture out on our own again, which in turn builds self-esteem.
Benefits on cognitive function
While hearing starts in the ears the understanding happens in the brain. When our ears cannot deliver these sounds effectively, the brain is forced to work harder to fill in gaps in speech. This can make it not only difficult but that much more exhausting to hear for someone with an untreated hearing loss. Hearing loss often starts slowly and is most often unnoticeable at first but it’s effects on cognitive health start early. As hearing loss progresses so does cognitive decline. Justin S. Golub, MD, MS, assistant professor of otolaryngology-head and neck surgery at Columbia University Vagelos College of Physicians and Surgeons conducted research based on data from 6,451, sixty-year-old adults on the cognitive effects of hearing loss. Golub research uncovered that for every 10 dB decrease in hearing, there was a significant decrease in cognitive ability. Most alarming was the discovery that the largest decrease in cognitive ability occurred in those whose hearing was just becoming impaired, at just 10 dB off the perfect hearing mark. This means that the sooner you can invest in treatment, the better.
Treat your hearing loss as soon as possible!
In short, treating hearing loss is a quality-of-life issue. The sooner you know you have a hearing test, the sooner you can understand if there is even an early risk to the quality of your life. Make sure to test your hearing annually and stay on top of your health and happiness!