More and more research is accumulating about the effects that hearing loss can have on our health and well-being. It seems that the more we understand hearing loss, the more we know that there isn’t any one problem it causes. Moreover, while some changes in the brain seem to happen directly as a result of hearing loss, others happen because of the long-term lifestyle changes that hearing loss tends to drive us toward.
Untreated Hearing Loss Is Fatiguing
When we first start to experience hearing loss, we might notice ourselves becoming tired more easily in group settings. Especially if we meet up with people in a public space, background noise can pose an extra challenge that can leave us feeling fatigued and frustrated. We might have to cut our visit short and retreat to the comforts of home to rest.
Hearing loss makes us tired because it makes our brain work harder. We have to engage in guesswork and problem solving just to understand what is being said, while still attempting to do all the normal work that a conversation involves. The more hearing loss we have, the more demanding this task becomes. We get exhausted easily, and also notice ourselves having less fun over the course of a social gathering.
As Hearing Loss Progresses Untreated, it Brings More Problems
It is a very human thing to avoid situations we don’t enjoy! If our hearing loss prevents us from enjoying social time, we are likely to start avoiding it. This happens all too often: the hearing loss that deprives our brain of the information we need to participate comfortably in a conversation ends up depriving us of social interaction altogether. Over time, this can lead to depression, social isolation, and cognitive decline.
In fact, the World Health Organization (WHO) put untreated hearing loss at the top of its list of twelve modifiable risk factors in the development of Alzheimer’s disease. It really seems to be true that if we don’t use it, we lose it, when it comes to our brain.
But it doesn’t have to be this way! Hearing loss treatment is about making sure you can hear what you need to feel confident and comfortable in social settings. There’s even research suggesting that beginning a hearing loss treatment program can reverse cognitive decline in its earlier stages.
Hearing Aids Can Help
Hearing aids are still the best treatment for most hearing loss, and they’re better than ever. Today’s hearing aids can help separate speech from background noise, connect wirelessly to the devices you use regularly, suppress reverberance and help with spatial location to make speech more intelligible than ever before. Many hearing aids are offered in a rechargeable style that makes them easier to maintain.
Numerous studies have found that treating hearing loss with hearing aids helps to improve our relationships with partners, family and friends. When we can hear what others are saying, we can be present and participate more fully in the moments we share with them. This is important to maintaining and deepening our relationships with those we care about, and helps us to keep our minds sharp and our lives feeling full.
About 85% of people who get hearing aids say they’re satisfied with them, when asked after one year. That’s because hearing aids help us stay self-reliant, confident and optimistic—and this, too, helps us to be more socially connected. Our social time helps our brains stay in shape, and that makes a major contribution to our health for the long term.
Hearing Aid Training Classes
If a person’s hearing loss has gone untreated for some time, they may have lost the ability to understand speech even if they hear it clearly. For that reason, training classes should be a part of a hearing loss treatment program for those with greater-than-mild hearing loss. Listening and understanding are habits that can take some time to redevelop, but the confidence, independence, and enjoyment that can be regained from successfully treating hearing loss are always worth the effort!
If you or a loved one is living with untreated hearing loss, make an appointment for a hearing test today and find out what hearing aids can do to help you live your best—and stay connected!