Over a third of all Americans over age 65 are suffering from some degree of hearing loss. Although hearing loss is one of the most significant chronic health conditions affecting middle-aged and older adults, only one out of every five of these patients will get corrective treatment. Unfortunately, the vast majority of hearing loss sufferers aren’t just coping with the loss of one of their senses—they are also at much greater risk of suffering mental and emotional decline.
Untreated Hearing Loss Can Cause Long-Lasting Health Problems
Too many adults consider hearing loss to be an injury to their ears, when in fact, its effects can be felt in every facet of their lives. Without proper treatment, a patient can suffer many adverse consequences of hearing loss, including:
- Impaired brain function. The brain depends on the sounds it receives in order to get information from the world around us. As hearing loss progresses, the brain stops receiving signals from the ears, causing the brain tissues to atrophy. The loss of cognitive function leads to an increased risk of developing dementia and Alzheimer’s disease.
- Memory loss. Even a mild hearing loss can take its toll on the brain. A hearing-impaired person’s brain must work much harder to understand muffled or degraded speech signals, and may sacrifice memory and retention of information as a result.
- Mental health issues. Hearing loss sufferers have been found to be more likely to develop mental and emotional problems, such as depression and anxiety. However, these effects are often reversed if patients begin hearing loss treatment.
- Social withdrawal. The inability to participate in conversations, deal with salespeople, or hear environmental cues can lead hearing loss sufferers to become socially withdrawn. This negatively affects quality of life in many ways, such as loss of contact with friends and family and lack of self-care.
- Damaged relationships. Hearing loss isn’t just a problem for patients; it can put a strain on the whole family. Many children and grandchildren have reported feeling disconnected from a loved one with hearing loss, while spouses admitted to a loss of intimacy and increased frustration due to the condition.
Why Does It Take So Long for Hearing Loss Sufferers to Seek Treatment?
After discovering all of the effects of untreated hearing loss, you may think that patients would be eager to get their hearing conditions treated. Unfortunately, most patients will delay treatment for up to a decade after suffering the initial symptoms—and many will only consent to using hearing aids after they are completely unable to hear or cannot communicate even in ideal listening conditions.
Hearing loss is dangerous because it comes on very slowly and gets progressively worse with time. At first, patients may only have difficulty hearing others in crowded or noisy environments. Over a few years, patients may begin to ask people around them to repeat themselves, or even miss whole portions of a conversation that took place right next to them. Patients may ignore the problem altogether, many will blame others for “talking too fast,” and some simply do not know how to ask for help treating their condition.
Our Philadelphia hearing care specialists know that taking control of a hearing condition can be a frightening prospect for many patients. That is why we offer a free hearing exam to diagnose the extent and degree of your hearing loss, allowing us to begin treating your condition immediately in the most effective way possible. The good news is that many patients see improvement in their mental and emotional well-being within just a few weeks of wearing hearing aids, allowing them to get back to fully enjoying their everyday lives. Call the number on this page to make an appointment with our office nearest you!