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Why you shouldn’t ignore hearing loss

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Learn reasons why loss of hearing should not be ignored and what happens if hearing loss is left untreated

Your hearing loss can be as unique as a fingerprint. You can even experience a different type of loss in each ear. But when hearing loss is left untreated, it can create similar direct and indirect consequences for you and your loved ones.

What happens if hearing loss is left untreated

Untreated hearing loss can significantly impact your personal and professional life. 

Communication becomes difficult to impossible

Both hearing and speaking can be affected if you have untreated hearing loss. You or your loved ones may notice your voice change pitch or your usual talking volume become softer or louder than usual, i.e., your “inside voice” is your “outside voice” or vice versa. That’s because it’s hard to determine how loud you’re speaking, and you overcompensate.

Since letters and verbal sounds correspond to unique frequencies, you can get to a point where certain sounds and letters are harder to identify or get lost. When hearing loss is left untreated, your brain adjusts to not hearing those sounds and it can impact your speech. 

Relationships can be strained

When you have untreated hearing loss, your relationships, conversations, and social outings can be challenging because restaurants and other loud, group environments make it difficult to hear and understand what is being said and who is speaking. Over time, it can lead you to feeling isolated and avoiding social events.

Work performance and earnings can suffer

Hearing loss not only can make it difficult for you to hear during important meetings or on calls, but it can make it hard to socially interact with your coworkers through conversation. Untreated hearing loss can also lead to listening fatigue, which can affect your ability to focus, retain information, and produce overall. Studies have shown those with untreated hearing loss have higher unemployment rates and historically earn lower wages than those with unaffected hearing.

Reasons why loss of hearing should not be ignored

Safety concerns rise

Untreated hearing loss can significantly impair your ability to respond and process emergency situations. Most alarms and safety-related products have either auditory or visual elements, not always both. Not being able to hear a fire alarm, tornado siren, or carbon monoxide indicator at the right time can be dangerous. 

Mental health is at risk

How does hearing loss impact mental health? Simply put, straining to hear is stressful and lonely. Listening fatigue from concentrating on speech, lipreading, or watching social cues constantly throughout your day is both mentally and physically draining. If you have tinnitus, dealing with the ringing in your ears places you in a higher state of stress. 

If you’re suffering with untreated hearing loss, you may be tempted to skip social events to avoid the hassle and embarrassment of trying to communicate in public environments, but that can lead to social isolation and depression.

Cognitive processes decline

Untreated hearing loss has been linked to dementia and an overall decline in cognitive capabilities. Hearing loss can make your brain work harder, forcing it to strain to hear at the expense of other thinking and memory systems. Avoiding social activities because of hearing loss can also mean the brain is less intellectually stimulated and engaged.

How to stop ignoring hearing loss

Get tested

You should schedule a hearing test if you have any of these signs of hearing loss:

  • Having trouble hearing over the phone
  • Having trouble understanding what other people are saying, especially in a noisy environment
  • Needing to turn up the TV volume so loud that others complain
  • Thinking that others always seem to mumble
  • Having trouble hearing high-pitched sounds and voices
  • Hearing a ringing or other unusual sound in your ears
  • Working in a noisy environment without or with inadequate ear protection

Seek treatment

As you consider your hearing loss and what are the health benefits of wearing hearing aids, you may have two questions: Will hearing aids improve my quality of life? Does wearing a hearing aid prevent further loss?

About 28.8 million U.S. adults could benefit to wearing hearing aids. People who wear hearing aids have found they enjoy a better quality of life than those who let their hearing loss go untreated. According to data from The Hearing Review, 83% of hearing aid wearers are satisfied with their devices due to technology advancements and to better engage with people and in activities.

Even though it’s not guaranteed that hearing aids will prevent further hearing loss, according to the National Council on Aging, they can enhance your quality of life by:

  • Strengthening communication skills and understanding conversations
  • Exercising your brain, which decreases the risk of atrophy
  • Filtering out background noise and decreasing listening fatigue 
  • Increasing independence
  • Encouraging more social interactions
  • Minimizing ringing or buzzing sounds from tinnitus
  • Decreasing risk of falling

Need hearing coverage?

Wellabe has teamed up with Start Hearing® to fill hearing insurance gaps and reduce your out-of-pocket costs. Our partnership can provide full-service, competitive hearing coverage that fits your needs. To learn more or to take a free online hearing test, visit our partner page.

Photo credit: iStock

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