If you’re not treating your symptoms properly, hearing loss can put you in the hospital. I know, I know, that sounds a little alarmist. We’re used to thinking of hearing loss as little more than an inconvenience–something that makes the news a little harder to hear or, at worst, makes you unwittingly agree to wear a puffy shirt in public.
But new research is ringing alarm bells over the long-term health impacts of untreated hearing loss.
What does hearing loss have to do with your health?
At first glance, hearing loss doesn’t seem to have much to do with other health indicators. But research conducted by the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health suggests that untreated hearing loss can result in a 50% increase in hospital visits over time. The longer the hearing loss remains untreated, the more significant the health havoc becomes.
That’s a puzzling finding: what does hearing have to do with your overall health? The answer lies in your brain.
Hearing health and mental health
Untreated hearing loss has been associated with a number of other health issues, including:
- An increase in anxiety and depression. Simply put, untreated hearing loss can increase anxiety and depression, which in turn can have a powerfully negative effect on your physical body, to say nothing of your mental health.
- Memory can begin failing. In fact, your odds of getting dementia double with untreated hearing loss.
- Loss of balance. Hearing loss can make it harder to keep your balance and maintain situational awareness.
For someone who has experienced a lack of hearing for his or her entire life, these issues likely won’t come up–at least, not with the same ferocity. It’s the change–the deterioration–that messes with your health.
Hearing aids: A real solution
It’s not all doom and gloom, though–far from it. The Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School research suggests that up to 75% of the cognitive decline associated with hearing loss can be stopped in its tracks by one simple solution: wearing a hearing aid.
Wearing a hearing aid seems to have a profound impact on mitigating the risks associated with untreated hearing loss. According to the study, patients who wore hearing aids for just two weeks saw:
- Improvements in brain function.
- Improvements in balance and awareness.
- Reductions in traumatic brain injuries.
The team from Johns Hopkins looked at data from 77,000 patients collected over roughly twenty years. And the conclusion is staggeringly simple: protecting your hearing is essential to preserving your health (and your wallet…don’t forget that going to the emergency room isn’t exactly cheap).
Preserving your hearing and your health
Hearing loss is a perfectly normal part of the aging process, though it’s not exclusive to getting older. Accidents, occupational hazards, or diseases can cause hearing loss at much younger ages.
However or whenever you lose your hearing, it’s extremely important that you talk to a hearing specialist and take the appropriate steps to treat your hearing loss. Your health could depend on it.