If you’ve just been diagnosed with hearing loss, you are probably at a crossroads about whether or not it is time to get hearing aids. While hearing aids can seem like a big investment, not getting hearing aids can ultimately cost even more. Living with untreated hearing loss will affect huge areas of your life, from limiting your earning power and social life to making you more vulnerable to associated diseases. Treating hearing loss helps you maintain your quality of life and minimizes the obstacles that hearing loss can create.
Hearing Loss Limits You
Hearing loss may not seem like a big deal, but it can have a huge impact on your social behavior. Hearing problems often subtly impact where you travel, how you socialize and how comfortable you are in unfamiliar places. When you have hearing loss, it can greatly reduce your ability to communicate with friends, family and coworkers, making it more difficult to understand them and feel understood yourself.
Untreated hearing loss keeps people away from environments where hearing is difficult. Even if you once enjoyed restaurants and parties, frustration with confusing, noisy environments may make you stay away from them. Hearing loss can strip the joy out of activities like sporting events, concerts and movies.
On the job or at school, untreated hearing loss can mean you miss important information, and have less opportunities for input. Studies have found that workers with untreated hearing loss earn less on average than their peers without hearing loss.
Hearing Loss and Your Health
Leaving hearing loss untreated also has far-reaching effects on your health. From damaging your mental and emotional stability to making you more prone to cognitive disorders, hearing loss can leave you vulnerable to other health issues.
Hearing loss is most directly linked to increased rates of depression, anxiety and isolation. By limiting a person’s ability to communicate and altering social patterns, hearing loss encourages feelings of frustration and loneliness. Communication gaps caused by hearing loss erode a person’s comfort both with the people they are closest to and in unfamiliar situations. The sustained problems caused by hearing loss make it harder to sustain mental health and social wellbeing.
Untreated hearing loss also places a strain on your cognitive health. People with untreated hearing loss have a higher likelihood of developing dementia and Alzheimer’s disease as well as an increased risk of falling accidents. Hearing and interpreting sound with hearing loss take more energy and mental resources, distracting the mind away from other cognitive jobs like balance and coordination.
Treat Hearing Loss Early
With all the advantages to treating hearing loss, why does it take the average person 7 years to confront a hearing issue? Many people think that hearing loss is only worth treating once it has progressed, but nothing could be further from the truth. Treating hearing loss early can work to preserve more of your natural ability to hear throughout your life and it is easier to adapt to using hearing aids the earlier you treat hearing loss.
When we begin to experience hearing loss, it represents a shift in the way our brain processes sound. With full hearing, our brain uses established neural pathways to send sound signals and interpret the meaning of the sound we hear. When we lose some of our ability to hear, think of it like solving a jigsaw puzzle with missing pieces – the more pieces missing, the harder it is to discern the subject of the puzzle. This means the more our ability to hear is compromised, the more work our brain does to interpret sounds. Fundamentally, hearing loss begins reshaping the mental patterns we use to hear sound and gather meaning.
When we treat hearing loss early, it’s like only a few pieces are missing from the jigsaw puzzle. It is easier to interpret what sounds mean and our brain patterns have only just begun to change. With hearing assistance, many people can retain more of the way they naturally hear for longer.
Waiting to treat hearing loss however, moves the brain further away from its natural hearing patterns. This makes it more difficult to adapt to the assistance that hearing aids can offer and it increases cognitive strain. Prioritizing hearing loss treatment makes treatment easier and ultimately preserves more of your hearing.
Treating hearing loss is an investment in your health and quality of life and when you are facing hearing challenges, Denver Audiology can help you make the right choices. Set up an appointment today and get ahead of your lifelong hearing health.