There are many wonderful reasons to be grateful for your hearing – the gleeful laughter of your grandchild, conversations with your best friend, a sweet “I love you” from your spouse, which is why it’s so important to safeguard this precious gift.
Let’s take a look at how untreated hearing loss can negatively affect your health.
The physical effects of untreated hearing loss
Untreated hearing loss can affect more than your hearing. It can impact your physical well-being and the physical well-being of those you love.
Physical safety and falls
Your physical safety can become compromised when your hearing loss is ignored or overlooked. Because hearing impairment can cause balance issues and disorientation, you will be more prone to falls if you leave your hearing loss untreated.
When a friend warns you about a dangerous step-down, you might not register the warning until it’s too late. It’s also possible your brain might become overloaded with compensating for your hearing loss, which leaves you unable to orient yourself to your environment.
Physical tension, stress, and fatigue
Untreated hearing loss can contribute to muscle tension and the stress and fatigue that accompany it. When you struggle to hear others or act like you’ve heard what they said, it can cause tension. This tension can turn to fatigue as your muscles are depleted of proper blood circulation.
Withdrawal from social activities and social isolation
When hearing becomes a chore, people often withdraw from social situations in which their hearing impairment is obvious. They may skip lunch dates with friends or forego card games with their bridge club.
Not only does social withdrawal lead to isolation and loneliness, but it can also lead to a less active lifestyle, which can cause physical decline.
Emergencies and physical harm
Untreated hearing loss can potentially lead to physical harm. When your hearing is compromised, you may not be able to respond to emergency situations as quickly as you otherwise could.
The effects of untreated hearing loss on mental health
In addition to physical concerns, untreated hearing loss can contribute to mental health issues now or in the future.
Frustration and anxiety
The frustration that accompanies untreated hearing loss can make your daily routine extremely difficult. When you find the ordinary tasks you used to be able to accomplish in five minutes now take 45 minutes, you’re likely to feel a great deal of frustration.
This frustration can develop into a consistently negative outlook. A negative outlook can cause additional anxiety when interacting with others.
Anxiety is driven by fear, which is a very real effect of untreated hearing loss. You may ask yourself questions, such as, “Can I get by without hearing every word? Will they notice? Will I be labeled or discovered.”
Anger and depression
Anger and depression often accompany untreated hearing loss. Anxiety is fear of the future, but depression is anger turned inward that leads to feelings of helplessness and being overwhelmed.
If you ignore your hearing loss, you may lash out at loved ones when you’re really angry at your own unwillingness to address the situation. You may also become angry with yourself and spiral into depression.
Memory impairment and dementia
Memory naturally declines gradually as we age. We may forget a birthday or an item on our grocery list. This type of memory loss is common and fairly inconsequential.
But if hearing loss is left untreated, your cognitive abilities also suffer. As you miss more conversations, you lose more of your understanding of the words. When you miss these intellectual stimuli, dementia can develop.
Protecting your hearing
Your hearing is precious. The moments you share with your grandchildren, best friends, and loved ones are also precious. You can enhance these relationships by taking care of your own health needs. If you suspect you are suffering from hearing loss, you should schedule an appointment with a hearing specialist as soon as possible.