6 reasons to stop putting off hearing health

Six Reasons to Stop Putting Off Your Hearing Health

Procrastination is a habit many would like to change.  Dragging your feet on occasion usually isn’t cause for concern — unless it pertains to your health. Here are seven reasons you shouldn’t procrastinate about your hearing health.

1. Untreated hearing loss leads to brain atrophy.

Many people don’t realize that hearing is actually a brain function.  Your ears do collect the sound, but it’s your brain that translates those random noises into the recognizable sound that either alerts us to danger, allows us to enjoy the chorus of our favorite song, or gives us the information we need to participate in conversations.  When we struggle to hear, there is an increased cognitive load on our brains.

Dementia and Alzheimer’s disease

Brain atrophy in older adults may also be the reason why those with untreated hearing loss are more at risk for developing dementia and Alzheimer’s disease. New studies by the Lancet Commission on Dementia Prevention, Intervention and Care and the University of Wisconsin-Madison indicate that treating your hearing loss may be one way to lower your risk of developing these conditions. Findings from both studies were presented at the 2017 Alzheimer’s Association International Conference in London.

2. Risk of Falls

Loss of hearing can affect the vestibular system and leads to an increased risk of falling. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, in 2015, costs for falls to Medicare alone totaled more than $31 billion.

An additional study by the Johns Hopkins School of Medicine and the National Institute of Aging determined that even a mild case of hearing loss tripled the risk of an accidental fall. That risk increases by 140% for every ten decibels of hearing loss. In contrast, those with hearing aids were able to maintain their balance twice as long as when their hearing aids were turned off.

3. Emotional Health

A study by the National Council on Aging of 2,300 hearing-impaired adults over the age of 50 found those with untreated hearing loss were more likely to report depression, anxiety, and paranoia and less likely to participate in organized social activities compared to those who wear hearing aids.

4. Listener Fatigue

If you find getting through the day is more tiring than normal and your physician says your health is fine, make an appointment with one of our audiologists to discover if your brain is working too hard to make sense of the sound in your environment around you.  Listening fatigue is real and happens when you have to purposely engage and focus in order to participate in the world around you.

On a positive note, Vanderbilt University discovered in a recent study that you can improve your focus, recall, and reaction times when you hear at a more optimum level.

5. Relationship challenges

If the physical and emotional effects on your health don’t pique your interest, consider the damage untreated hearing loss can do to relationships with family, friends, and coworkers. Negative emotions felt as a result of hearing loss include frustration, loneliness, social isolation, communication difficulties, loss of companionship, and a decrease in communication.

According to a Cochlear America survey, people with hearing loss say relationships with their romantic partners suffer the most, followed by those with family, friends, and coworkers. Invest in your relationships by ensuring quality communication through optimum hearing.

6. Your income

Although employers cannot discriminate against you if you have hearing loss, denying the problem can cost YOU money.  According to a study conducted by the Better Hearing Institute, those with unaided hearing loss earned on average $20,000 less each year than those who wear hearing aids.

Get it done!

As you can see, procrastination can be mentally, physically and economically, and emotionally unhealthy when it pertains to your hearing loss. According to the Hearing Loss Association of America, of the more than 48 million Americans who report some degree of hearing loss, those between the ages of 60-69 have the greatest amount — and it’s often a subtle condition. That’s why seeing a hearing healthcare professional on an annual basis is important. Of all the things you avoid doing, make sure tending to your hearing health isn’t one of them. Make an appointment with one of our Doctor’s of Audiology today.

Contributing writers: Debbie Clason of Healthy Hearing & Dr. Sandra Miller