The Effects of Untreated Hearing Loss

Hearing loss is one of the most prevalent chronic health conditions for older adults. Unfortunately, most people who might benefit from treatment do not seek help. Untreated hearing loss can lead to social, physical, and psychological problems.

Social Effects of Hearing Loss

Some individuals with hearing loss tend to begin withdrawing from social situations that prove too challenging. This could mean avoiding normal social activities one used to participate in, cutting family dinners short, or skipping out on weekly bridge games. Individuals instead begin to prefer less demanding and quieter settings. All of these things together can lead to isolation and loneliness. 

  • Difficulty participating in conversations, especially group settings

  • Reduced social activity

  • Unaware of subtle conversational cues

  • Behavior confused for rudeness or inattention

  • Isolation and withdrawal

Physical Effects of Hearing Loss

Social settings can strain hearing to the point where the additional mental effort required to decode speech can become tiresome. This increased physical and mental load can take a toll on an individual’s well-being.

  • Tiredness and exhaustion

  • Increased stress and blood pressure

  • Headaches and muscle tension

  • Impaired memory and reduced alertness

  • Irritability and fatigue

Psychological Effects of Hearing Loss

Not only can untreated hearing loss affect social interaction and physical well-being, but it can also influence mental and emotional health. For some individuals, trying to keep up with conversations and overcoming the anxiety of being in social settings may be so stressful that it may result in psychological disorders.

  • Sadness and depression

  • Embarrassment, shame, and frustration

  • Anger, guilt, and anxiety

  • Distrust of others

  • Low self-esteem/confidence

Increasing Evidence Connects Hearing Loss to Dementia
Additionally, increasing evidence points to a connection between hearing loss and cognitive decline in older adults. According to a study published in January 2013 in JAMA Internal Medicine, adults in their 70s and 80s with hearing loss developed cognitive problems at a rate 30 to 40 percent faster than those without hearing loss. While the reason for this apparent connect remains unknown, researchers have speculated that social isolation might be a factor. The additional mental demands of having to constantly decode speech might also be a contributing factor to the types of cognitive changes that, over time, can lead to the onset of dementia.

Since most hearing loss develops gradually over time, it can be difficult to know how well you are hearing now compared with how well you used to hear. Only an accurate hearing test can reveal if you are having difficulty with specific sounds, and if so, how you might be able to hear better.

Celebrate Sound. contact us today.