June 4, 2020 - Update on COVID-19 - OPEN BY APPOINTMENT ONLY

Consequences of Untreated Hearing Loss

Research shows that even mild levels of untreated hearing loss can cause significant harm to the human body.

women water

Cognitive Decline – Our ear and hearing help to fuel our brain and keep it active. When we being to have hearing loss that brain fuel or stimulation slows down. Effects of untreated mild to sever hearing loss:

though all human brains become smaller with age, shrinkage is accelerated in adults with hearing loss
untreated hearing loss may result in serious long-term consequences to healthy brain functioning
adults with untreated hearing loss experience a 30-40% decline in cognitive abiltiies
adults with untreated hearing loss are more likely to develop dementia

Social Isolation

Not being able to hear is frustrating. When you can’t easily hear your family talking at the restaurant or your friends when you are playing cards, hearing starts to take effort. This effort is known as cognitive load. Often instead of working hard to hear (as hearing should be easy) people just give up. When this happens they unknowingly isolate themselves from the world around. Furthermore, when people are struggling to hear they often become afraid to respond incorrectly in a social situation and will therefore avoid them. This social isolation leads to less brain stimulation and can increase the speed with which our hearing and cognitive abilities decline. Don’t let this happen to you or someone you know. We have helped thousands of people to avoid social isolation by prescribing and expertly fitting them with appropriate hearing aids. We can do the same for you.

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depression and hearing loss

The complex relationship between hearing loss and depression

Everyone understands that both hearing health and mental health are important, and now recent studies have shown that a interconnected correlation exists between the two. The research shows that depression is linked to hearing loss and sadly both conditions frequently go undiagnosed by many healthcare professionals. What if there was help out there? What if we could help change the lives of people by treating their hearing loss with hearing aids and keeping them connected to the world around them.

The correlation

It is easy to see why depression and hearing loss are so connected. When people have difficulty hearing they usually struggle to communicate and interact with the world around them. This can lead to stress, fatigue and social isolation. Once people decide to isolate themselves, depression often follows – especially in older adults. This also often coincides with hearing loss which is much more prevalent in older adults.

A study performed by the National Insitute on Deafness and Other Communicaiton Disorders (NIDCD American) revealed that 11 percent of people with hearing loss are also struggling with depression. Compare this to the general population which has a depression incidence of about 5 percent. This means that people with hearing loss are much more likely to also have depression.

The third most commonly occurring medical condition in older adults is hearing loss. Hearing loss that is associated with aging is called presbycusis. This type of hearing loss occurs gradually and often goes unnoticed for a while. Two common traits of age related hearing loss are the loss of hearing in the high frequency ranges and the difficulty understanding speech in noise. 25-40 percent of people over the age of 65 have some degree of hearing loss. This hearing loss usually goes untreated for years. This is often because standard hearing tests are not usually part of age related physicals. Even after testing has happened only 25 percent of people who have treatable hearing loss decide to take action and get hearing aids.

What are the Signs?

Meridian Hearing is working with family physicians to include a hearing test in annual physicals after a patient turns 50. Getting a base line at the age of 50 allows us to identify any changes that occur over time and provides a starting picture of where each person’s hearing health is at.

It is also important to be watching for signs of both hearing loss and depression.

Signs of hearing loss

  • Asking for people to repeat themselves
  • Thinking other people are mumbling
  • Listening to the TV or radio very loud
  • Difficulty understanding speech in noise

Signs of Depression

  • Feelings of sadness and hopelessness
  • Fatigue
  • Difficulty concentrating
  • Loss of interest in hobbies
  • Loss of interest in social interaction

The responsibility for spotting these signs does not rest solely on family physicians. Family and friends should be watching for both signs of hearing loss and depression. If noticed, a hearing assessment should be scheduled. Hearing assessments are complimentary and will provide us with the information we need to rule out hearing loss or move forward with the right solution if hearing loss is present.

Why would a hearing test help a patient with depression?

There are many different causes of depression, hearing loss is one of them. If the depression is caused or made worse by hearing loss, a hearing test will let us know the degree and type of hearing loss. Once we know this we can prescribe proper hearing aids. Simply knowing that hearing loss could be the cause of one’s depression will help patients because it grants a sense of understanding and a place to move forward from.

Take the Next Step

If the you notice this signs of hearing loss or depression above you should seek the care of an Audiologist. They will both assess your hearing and educate you on its causes, treatments and how to live with hearing loss. Often times the best treatment for hearing loss is being fitted with hearing aids.

Hearing loss and depression are linked but there is help! If you or someone you know if suffering from hearing loss or depression the best thing you can do is start the journey of healing today. A study by the Better Hearing Institute found that 9 out of 10 people reported a significant improvement in their quality of life after being prescribed hearing aids. Call Meridian today and have your questions answered.

woman hearing

Please contact us for more information.