What might untreated hearing loss be costing you? New research suggests that it could be costing you more than you think!
Nearly 30% more people with untreated hearing loss also suffer from depression symptoms when compared to those who’ve sought treatment.
This study, completed by Seniors Research Group, demonstrates some of the lesser-known impacts of hearing loss. Their findings aren’t isolated.
Let’s take a look.
The impacts of hearing loss no one tells you about
When you think of hearing loss, you may think of “not being able to hear well” first and foremost. It’s hard to imagine the less tangible effects, but they still exist, and this new study shows they can be measured.
They include depression symptoms like:
- Emotional Distress
People who are struggling to hear often find themselves frustrated and fatigued. They’re less able to enjoy social activities they once loved. The additional effort that they and others must put forward leaves everyone feeling exhausted. The person with hearing loss may even feel embarrassed.
Slowly, over time, they often develop feelings of regret, lack of connection, and grief over an inability to participate in activities as they may have in the past. They may even feel that this is a normal part of the aging process. They convince themselves that they just have to accept this – they’re just getting older.
But they shouldn’t because they don’t have to!
Those with hearing loss can become agitated and stressed-out. They may think they know what someone said and answered in turn. They then receive a puzzled expression and realize their mistake. This can cause embarrassment and even impactful misunderstandings like missing appointments or gatherings because they misheard the time or place.
Even casual conversations, especially over the phone, become difficult. Most people are acutely aware of their struggles and can feel helpless to do anything about it.
But there are always solutions.
Sadness and emotional distress can also lead to self-imposed isolation. Extreme loneliness often accompanies this isolation. You might feel cut off from your social network. If you find conversation exhausting, you may find it easier to withdrawal into your mind. You might fill your time with alternatives to human connection. This could mean spending all of your time with your pets (who we all know, love you unconditionally,) or you may endlessly watch television.
Neither provides the two-way stimulation that humans need to be happy and healthy.
In fact, several independent studies have shown that socially isolated people have nearly a 50% higher sickness and death rate than those who haven’t become isolated. They’re twice as likely to develop Alzheimer’s or other forms of dementia.
To put this into perspective, the risk to their health is even higher than that of morbid obesity and cigarette smoking, two factors well-known to significantly impact health and reduce lifespan.
Fortunately, this is not an inevitability.
Preventing depression symptoms in those with hearing loss
These less tangible impacts can be subtle at first, making them hard to detect. Slowly but surely, if hearing loss is not treated, the symptoms typically become worse. Eventually, those around a person may just think this is normal. They don’t realize the cause-and-effect relationship that can exist. Here’s what you can do.
Know the signs
Learn more about hearing loss. Be able to recognize it in yourself and those you love. Some of the common signs include:
- Asking someone to repeat themselves
- Misunderstanding words frequently
- Agitation during discussions
There are many more to learn about.
If you have any symptoms at all, start getting tested annually. Even if it’s not yet time to get a corrective device, a hearing specialist can talk to you about preventing further damage and options to consider.
Don’t delay treatment
People delay getting treatment for hearing loss for many reasons. They don’t want to wear a hearing aid or think they can’t afford it. They think it’s not as bad as it is. But studies show this may lead to worsening overall health and well-being. These concerns pale in comparison to the reality of what those losing their hearing may experience emotionally and psychologically if they don’t get assistance.
Seeing a hearing specialist, getting tested, and then wearing your hearing aid can have a positive impact on your life. There’s no need to hide from hearing problems.