Health Consequences of Untreated Hearing Loss

Hearing loss impacts much more than just our ears. Our quality of life and overall health are greatly dependent on our ability to hear what's happening around us.

Hearing Loss and Our Health

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Dementia and Cognitive Health

Hearing loss is linked to early cognitive decline and dementia.

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Dementia and Cognitive Health

Dementia is one of the leading causes of disability worldwide. Untreated hearing loss leads to accelerated cognitive decline and increases the risk for dementia. In fact, hearing loss that begins during the mid stages of life may account for 9.1% of cases of global dementia diagnoses. Treating hearing loss quickly may reduce this risk.

Sources:

  1. Ford AH, Hankey, GJ, Yeap, BB, Golledge J, Flicker L, Almeida, OP. (2018). Hearing loss and the risk of dementia in later life. Maturitas. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.maturitas.2018.03.04.
  2. Lin FR, Yaffe K, Xia J, Zue QL, Harris TB, et al. (2013). Hearing Loss and Cognitive Decline Among Older Adults. JAMA Intern Med. 173(4). doi:10.1001/jamainternmed.2013.1868.
  3. Thomson RS, Auduong P, Miller AT, Gurgel RK. (2017). Hearing Loss as a Risk Factor for Dementia: A Systematic Review. Laryngoscope Investigative Otolaryngology. doi:10.1002/lio2.65.
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Anxiety and Depression

Untreated hearing loss leads to anxiety and depression.

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Anxiety and Depression

Even a mild degree of hearing loss increases our risk for anxiety and negatively impacts our mental health. Don't let hearing loss take away your enjoyment of life. If you're concerned that a change in hearing may be impacting your mental health, schedule an appointment for an evaluation right away.

Sources: 

  1. Contrera KJ, Betz J, Deal J, Choi JS, Ayonayon HN, et al. (2017). Association of Hearing Impairment and Anxiety in Older Adults. J Aging Health. 29(1)178-184.
  2. Contrera KJ, Betz J, Deal JA, Choi JS, Ayonayon HN, et al. (2016). Association of Hearing Impairment and Emotional Vitality in Older Adults. J Gerontol B Psychol Sci Soc Sci. 71(3)400-404.
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Falling

Hearing loss puts us at much higher risk for sustaining an injurious fall.

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Falling

Falls are the leading cause of fatal and nonfatal injuries for people 65 and older and hearing loss increases the odds of falling by 21%. Even a mild degree of hearing loss increases the risk of falling. The connection between the two are still being established but it's likely a combination of issues that occur with hearing loss. One theory is the increased risk for avoiding social events leads to a more sedentary lifestyle, reducing muscle mass and strength. The other theory is the balance and auditory nerves are connected and if damage occurs to one, it may also occur to the other. 

Sources: 

  1. Peeters G, van Schoor NM, Lips P. (2009). Fall Risk: The Clinical Relevance of Falls and How to Integrate Fall Risk with Fracture Risk. Best Practice & Research Clinical Rheumatology. 23:797-804.

  2. Kamil RJ, Betz J, Powers BB, Pratt S, Kritchevsky S, Ayonayon HN, et al. (2016). Association of Hearing Impairment with Incident Frailty and Falls in Older Adults. J Aging Health. 28(4):644-660.

  3. Moncada LVV, Mire LG. (2017). Preventing Falls in Older Persons. American Family Physician. 96(4):240-249.

  4.  Lin FR, Ferrucci L. (2012). Hearing Loss and Falls Among Older Adults in the United States. Arch Intern Med. 172(4):369-371.

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Mortality

Untreated hearing loss increases our risk for early mortality.

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Mortality

Hearing loss can increase our risk for early death. In one study, the risk increased by 20% in participants aged 70-79, even after accounting for demographic factors and cardiovascular risk factors. Although more research is needed to complete this picture, we do know hearing health is an important component to overall health. Don't wait to get a hearing evaluation, contact your local audiologist today.

Source:

  1. Genther DJ, et al. (2015). Association of Hearing Impairment and Mortality in Older Adults. J Gerontol. A Biol Sci Med Sci. 70(1):85-90.
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Relationships with Healthcare Providers

Patients with hearing loss report poorer relationships with their healthcare providers.

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Relationships with Healthcare Providers

Having a good relationship with your medical providers is an important aspect to living a healthy life. People with untreated hearing loss report less favorably on patient-physician communication, which ultimately impacts their feelings on their overall healthcare experience. 

Sources:

  1. Mick P, Foley DM, Lin FR. (2017). Hearing Loss is Associated with Poorer Ratings of Patient-Physician Communication and Healthcare Quality J Am Geriatr Soc. 62(11):2207-2209.
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Loneliness and Isolation

People with untreated hearing loss often report feeling lonely and isolated from others.

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Loneliness and Isolation

Hearing loss is associated with increased risk for loneliness and the effects are greatest for younger people with higher degrees of hearing loss. Loneliness can lead to depression and reduce our overall quality of life. Because hearing loss can start at any time, it's important that you don't ignore the symptoms. The sooner you treat hearing loss, the better it is for your emotional, cognitive, and physical health.

Source:

  1. Sung YK, Lingsheng L, Blake C, Betz J, Lin FR. (2016). Association of Hearing Loss and Loneliness in Older Adults. J of Aging and Health. 28(6):979-994.

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