Impact of Hearing Loss

By seeing, you learned to recognize your father’s smile. By tasting, you learned you preferred peaches to spinach. And by hearing, you were lulled to sleep by your mother’s singing.

The reduction or loss of one of your senses has a pronounced effect on your ability to participate in life, and the lives of those you care about. Losing your hearing can be particularly disturbing because it is often associated with aging and loss of vitality.

The truth is hearing loss affects people of all ages and can be caused by a number of conditions besides growing old. The result is a life of increased isolation and loss of experiences and relationships that takes a profound toll emotionally, physically, and professionally.

Hearing Loss Takes An Emotional Toll

“I find myself losing my temper with my grandchildren because they mumble all the time.”

“Everyone cracked up when the boss asked me about last month’s numbers, and I thought she said something about the sand in summer. I don’t speak up in meetings anymore.”

“I stopped going to my weekly mah-jongg game because I’m tired of asking everyone to repeat themselves—and I can tell they’re sick of it, too.”

“Everyone cracked up when the boss asked me about last month’s numbers, and I thought she said something about the sand in summer. I don’t speak up in meetings anymore.”

Do any of these sound familiar? Even if you haven’t experienced these exact scenarios, the emotions they evoke probably still resonate. The National Council on Aging studied the consequences of untreated hearing loss and found sufferers experience the following common feelings:

  • Sadness
  • Frustration
  • Embarrassment
  • Anxiety
  • Paranoia
  • Insecurity
  • Anger
  • Loss of self-confidence

Loss of hearing interferes with your ability to enjoy recreation, vacation, hobbies, and other pastimes and takes you out of the social scene. The resulting loneliness and isolation rob you of precious years.

Hearing Loss Can Have A Physical Impact

Hearing loss is often a symptom or outcome of other medical conditions (comorbidities), which can be very serious or even life-threatening. These are yet another reason not to ignore the symptoms of hearing loss. More than your hearing may be at stake.

Cardiovascular Disease

Cardiovascular disease is one of the top causes of death. Poor cardiovascular health causes inadequate blood flow throughout your body, and one of the first signs of a problem is blood vessel trauma to your inner ear, resulting in damage to fragile hearing nerves. The outcome is hearing loss, particularly at the lower frequencies. The results of at least one major study showed a “significant association” between low-frequency hearing loss and dangerous outcomes of cardiovascular disease, including strokes, coronary artery disease, and heart attacks.

Dementia

Despite the results of multiple studies linking hearing loss to the onset of dementia, many people remain unaware that leaving a hearing loss untreated poses a threat to cognitive health. The more profound the loss of hearing the greater the likelihood of cognitive decline. Hearing loss has also been associated with more rapid brain shrinkage, affecting areas of the brain responsible for processing speech, sound, memory, and sensory integration.

Theories as to why hearing loss a likely factor in the development of dementia in some patients point to straining to hear and understand despite hearing loss exhausting your mind and inhibiting its ability to function at peak performance. Also, If you cannot hear well you probably try to avoid social interactions requiring you to hold up a conversation despite noise and crowds. Isolation is an established contributor to mental decline.

Hearing Loss Can Damage Your Career

Hearing loss affects not only your personal life but can cause major disruptions in your professional life, as well. While mild hearing loss may not interfere with your job, worsening hearing quickly takes its toll. Maybe you’ve resisted getting hearing aids before now because you’re concerned they’ll make you appear “over the hill” to employers. Ironically, not treating hearing loss is far more likely to cost you with regards to employment, promotions, salary increases, and job security.

One study examined the link between hearing loss and unemployment. The conclusion was that working-age adults who experienced hearing loss were more likely to be unemployed than their hearing counterparts. On average, those with hearing loss also earned significantly less than co-workers with normal hearing.

Now, are you ready to figure out if you or someone you care about has a hearing problem?