Why treating hearing loss is so important to your overall health and happiness
With the rising cost of healthcare, the medical profession has moved toward emphasizing “interventional care” – a methodology that focuses on preventing afflictions before they develop. Examples of interventional care include annual physicals, pap smears, check-ups, etc. And research conducted over the past 15-20 years has surmised that routine hearing screenings should absolutely be a part of your regular health regimen.
Treating hearing loss is vital to your overall health for a number of different reasons, but they all seem to tie in to one main idea – quality of life. After a four-decade, longitudinal study on health and happiness, research suggests that the key to a happy life is far more dependent upon loving, fulfilling relationships than high IQ, socioeconomic status, or wealth.
That said, if you neglect to take the simple steps needed to help the treatment and prevention of hearing loss, you may be putting the relationships your life holds so dear in jeopardy. To illustrate that point, the following are a few ways your overall health can be affected by untreated hearing loss:
Untreated Hearing Loss Can Increase Your Risk of Dementia and Social Isolation
A group of researchers at Johns Hopkins University recently published the results of a study they have been conducting since 1997. Their main finding is that untreated hearing loss is directly associated with a greater risk of developing dementia and being relegated to social isolation. The primary reason for this correlation is the way sounds are processed by those suffering from hearing loss. It’s not that they can’t hear. It’s that once the cochlea stops doing a good job, the sounds it delivers to the brain comes through as a garbled signal; similar to a bad cell phone connection. This begins something of a domino effect:
- If the brain has to dedicate extra resources to processing sounds, it takes away from other brain functions like thinking and memory.
- When the brain figures out that it’s dedicating too many resources to trying to hear, it begins to tune things out. It basically gives up on listening.
- Once a person’s brain has taught itself not to listen, they withdraw from social situations and stop interacting with others almost entirely.
- Social isolation has been proven to exponentially increase the rates of illness, cognitive decline, depression, the onset of dementia, and even death.
If You Can’t Hear, You Can’t Actively Participate in Your Health Care
Roughly three in every four individuals over the age of 65 suffer from multi-morbidity: a combination of ailments that include diabetes, dementia, cardiovascular disease and related disorders. Treating these issues requires communicating with your healthcare professional. Unfortunately those with untreated hearing loss often misunderstand medical directions and hesitate to ask their doctor follow up questions. Many of these medical problems, like diabetes and cardiovascular disease increase your risk of hearing loss.
Falls are a Common Casualty of Hearing Loss
A study published in the Archives of Internal Medicine found that people with even a mild hearing loss were nearly three times more likely to have a history of falling (a dangerous health concern for the elderly). The reason for this correlation is no great mystery. People who can’t hear well are less aware of their overall environment and often struggle with their balance.
The Direct Correlation Between Untreated Hearing Loss and Depression
In a recent study, two researchers examined the relationship between cognitive coping strategies, anxiety, depression and hearing loss. Their results suggested that poor coping skills, and symptoms of anxiety and depression, are related issues among individuals with acquired hearing loss. Simply stated, patients with untreated hearing loss tend to suffer more from the ill effects of depression and anxiety than individuals with normal hearing.
The Importance of “Aging In Place”
The medical profession defines “aging in place” as the ability to live in one’s own home and community safely, independently, and comfortably, regardless of age, income, or ability level. One of the most common hindrances to “aging in place” is untreated hearing loss. And people who are unable to “age in place” are far more likely to be social isolated and institutionalized.
Contact our office today to schedule a free hearing consultation and screening.
13121 E. Philadelphia St.
Whittier, CA 90601