Investing in Your Health: Treating Hearing Loss

An investment is defined by the Merriam-Webster dictionary as “the outlay of money usually for income or profit,” however an investment is not always monetary in nature. An investment in a relationship, hobby, or skill will serve you for years to come. An investment in your health is one that will improve the quality of your life for years to come. For those of us with hearing loss, an investment in our hearing means that in the short term, we will not have to struggle through conversation, and suffer confusion and misunderstanding. However, in the long run, treating your hearing now can have serious benefits to your cognitive, emotional, and physical health.

Investing in Your Hearing 

There are 48 million people in the US who could benefit from treating their hearing loss, however only yet 20 percent of patients invest in treatment. Treatment can look different for everyone, depending on their hearing ability. However, most people with hearing loss suffer from a type that is referred to as sensorineural in nature. Sensorineural hearing loss is caused by damage to the inner ear, due to advanced age, exposure to noise, infection, head trauma, and even exposure to certain chemicals and medications classified as ototoxic. While sensorineural hearing loss is permanent, it can effectively treat hearing loss as well as decrease many of the serious side effects connected to the condition.

An investment in Your Cognitive Health

Numerous studies show that untreated hearing loss not only is a communication issue but can severely increase the risk of cognitive decline. This is in part due to the nature of hearing loss. While we hear with our ears, we listen with our brains. Hearing loss occurs when sound cannot reach the brain due to damage or a blockage in the inner ear. As hearing loss becomes more pronounced over years, parts of words and sentences become lost for a listener. This puts significant stress on the brain which is forced to use areas of cognitive functioning reserved for other purposes. Over the years an untreated hearing increases the risk of dementia. 

A study from Johns Hopkins University found that an untreated mild hearing loss doubled the risk of dementia, a moderate hearing loss tripled the risk, and a severe case increased the risk fivefold. The good news is that a 2013 study conducted by the ABC Health Study Group found that treating hearing loss reduced the risk for dementia and other cognitive issues significantly. 

An Investment in Your Emotional Health

Communication issues start to affect the quality of your relationships over the years. This is true of friendships, partnerships, family, and even professional relationships. Misunderstandings happen to everyone now and then but if this becomes a regular occurrence, it can start to build up frustration between the people in your life. In personal relationships, this may turn into resentment as the casual conversation becomes sparer due to communication issues. 

In professional relationships, an unaddressed hearing loss can affect earnings, as co-workers and bosses find you are constantly missing important information. Over time, this starts to affect self-esteem and confidence and ultimately leads many into loneliness and self-isolation. Therefore, people with unaddressed hearing loss often suffer from chronic anxiety and depression. The good news is that investing in hearing aids can ease the struggle in social interactions eliminating most of these symptoms. However, the sooner you act, the less of a chance these side effects have a chance to progress.

An Investment in Your Health

When you invest in your hearing health, you are not only investing in your mental and cognitive well-being but your physical health as well. Chronic anxiety, stress, and depression can increase blood pressure and affect heart health over time. Another aspect of hearing loss is its effects on mobility. When you have limited hearing, the risk of falls, accidents, and hospitalizations goes up significantly. This has been attributed to less awareness of sound cues around you. It is all too easy to miss audio warning signs such as an approaching vehicle out of view or a dog moving around your space. 

Investing in your hearing health is ultimately a quality of life issue. If you want improved cognitive, emotional, and physical health into your golden years, it is imperative to invest in your hearing health as soon as possible. The first step is to schedule a hearing exam now!