old woman suffering from hearing loss

Impact of untreated hearing loss on overall health

18 / 12 / 23

Blog post

It’s common knowledge the impact untreated hearing loss can have on your hearing, but did you know it can also affect your overall health? In today’s article, we will explore untreated hearing loss’s impact on overall health.

The connection between hearing loss and cognitive decline

The relationship between hearing loss and cognitive decline has become a focal point of research, revealing a connection that extends beyond just hearing difficulties. Studies consistently show that untreated hearing loss is linked to a higher risk of cognitive decline, including conditions like dementia and Alzheimer’s disease.

One factor contributing to this link is the extra cognitive load imposed by untreated hearing loss. Struggling to understand speech and environmental sounds places an additional burden on the brain, diverting cognitive resources away from other tasks. Over time, this increased cognitive load may lead to mental fatigue and a decline in cognitive function.

Social isolation, often associated with hearing loss, can also contribute to cognitive decline. The brain, being inherently social, relies on regular interactions for stimulation and neural plasticity. When hearing loss leads to reduced social engagement, the brain may experience a lack of cognitive exercise, potentially accelerating cognitive decline.

Neurological changes are another aspect. Auditory signals play a crucial role in the brain’s functioning, influencing neural pathways associated with memory and cognitive processes. Untreated hearing loss may lead to alterations in these pathways, contributing further to cognitive decline.

audiologist examining hearing loss

Social and emotional consequences of untreated hearing loss

Untreated hearing loss has a profound toll on emotional and social well-being, causing social isolation and frustration. The emotional impact is akin to a subtle erosion, where the gradual loss of connection to one’s surroundings contributes to a sense of loneliness and detachment. For example, imagine the frustration of strained conversations, the missed nuances in laughter, and the diminishing melody of your friends and family’s voices, all of which conspire to create an emotional void. 

Socially, untreated hearing loss acts as an invisible barrier, distorting human interaction. Conversations become landmines of misunderstanding, leading to withdrawal from social settings to avoid embarrassment or the fear of being perceived as unresponsive. Friends and family inadvertently become distant, their expressions and gestures lost in the muffled soundscape.

Furthermore, the relentless strain to comprehend speech can lead to fatigue and heightened stress levels. This emotional fatigue, coupled with the struggle to engage in everyday conversations, amplifies feelings of inadequacy and frustration. Over time, untreated hearing loss will silently dismantle your emotional and social connectivity. Individuals will find themselves navigating a world that becomes progressively quieter and more isolating, leaving a mark on their overall well-being. This is why it’s important to seek help as soon as possible. 

The quicker you see an audiologist, the quicker your hearing loss can be treated. At Sutton Hearing Centre, we provide thorough hearing tests so we can fully diagnose the issues with your hearing. We have a clinic in Sutton and Solihull, so if you’re near either of these areas – we have you covered.

Physical health complications 

Untreated hearing loss doesn’t just affect you emotionally, it can have a profound impact on your physical well-being too. The risk of accidents and falls increases when you suffer from hearing loss. The diminished ability to perceive environmental sounds, such as alarms, sirens, or approaching footsteps, heightens the likelihood of inadvertently stumbling or colliding with objects. Various studies have demonstrated a significant correlation between hearing loss and a higher incidence of falls among older adults.

The cognitive load imposed by untreated hearing loss is a physical burden. Struggling to comprehend speech and environmental sounds diverts cognitive resources, leading to mental fatigue. This cognitive strain is associated with increased stress levels, potentially contributing to cardiovascular issues such as hypertension. 

Furthermore, the link between hearing loss and social isolation can result in a restricted lifestyle. Reduced participation in physical activities due to social withdrawal may contribute to weight gain, and a decline in overall physical fitness. Research has shown there is a connection between untreated hearing loss and a decrease in physical well-being.

audiologist inspecting hearing loss

Barriers to seeking treatment and solutions

It’s common for people with hearing loss to suffer in silence and this should never be the case. It’s important to understand the barriers individuals face when facing up to hearing loss and seeking treatment for it. 

One significant barrier is the pervasive stigma surrounding hearing loss. Despite its prevalence, societal misconceptions often brand hearing impairment as a sign of ageing or diminished cognitive abilities. This stigma contributes to feelings of embarrassment and reluctance to acknowledge the issue, deterring individuals from seeking professional assistance.

Denial also plays a substantial role. The gradual onset of hearing loss can lead individuals to adapt their lifestyles and communication strategies, creating an illusion of normalcy. Accepting the need for treatment may disrupt this adapted routine, making denial a common psychological defence mechanism.

Furthermore, practical obstacles further impede seeking help. Financial concerns, lack of accessibility to healthcare services, and lots of information about available solutions can be formidable barriers. Many are unaware of the advancements in hearing technology, assuming that treatment primarily involves cumbersome and noticeable hearing aids.

We hope you’ve enjoyed reading our latest article about the impact untreated hearing loss can have on your overall health. If you have any questions, get in touch with our team today and they will be happy to answer any queries you may have.

Alternatively, if you’ve been struggling with your hearing recently, and you’d like it investigated, book an appointment today and one of our expert audiologists will provide you with a thorough diagnosis of your hearing. 

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