As we all know, Hearing Loss is incredibly common. In fact, it’s reaching epidemic proportions across the globe, prompting agencies such as the World Health Organization (WHO) to partner with their member states to develop programs targeted towards ear and hearing care. One of three between the ages of 65 and 74 will experience hearing loss, while 3 out of every 1000 children will be born with the condition as well. With overwhelming statistics like these, you may be surprised to learn that the risks and consequences of untreated hearing loss are not taken very seriously, especially by those struggling with the condition. Only 20% will seek treatment and will wait years before making the decision, while many will forgo hearing aids even when they can directly benefit, but why? We might know the answer.
Despite numerous studies and a global consensus proving the negative consequences of untreated hearing loss, many still don’t find the benefits of seeking treatment worth the trouble. For some, hearing treatment means hearing aids, which many are averse to for multiple reasons. Social stigma can make some feel like they are perceived as old or “broken”, while others are not convinced by the cost. Hearing treatment does not always equate to hearing aids though, with some cases requiring surgery or special medications instead. There is also a chance your hearing loss is just a result of earwax buildup or a simple infection!
Another reason is denial or disbelief. Many patients believe that they hear just fine or do not recognize that their hearing has become impaired. For those struggling with hearing loss, it may seem easier to “workaround” or cope with your condition, though there may be severe consequences for ignoring your hearing loss.
Losing the ability to hear all of the wonderful things that make life fulfilling is not the only risk presented by hearing loss. Hearing loss has been linked to cognitive decline that may result in early-onset dementia, depression, isolation, and mood swings. In children, the stakes are even higher as language acquisition and cognitive or social-emotional development can suffer as a result.
Skipping treatment can also make your current hearing loss diagnosis more severe over time, as your hearing becomes further and further damaged while time progresses without the necessary assistance it requires.
Early detection and intervention are vital to successfully treating your hearing loss before it progresses any further. If you suspect you may be experiencing symptoms of hearing loss, it’s a great idea to get a hearing evaluation. Your audiologist cannot help symptoms that they don’t know exist, making it critically important that you advocate for your hearing health. Practitioners are increasingly busy, with surveys finding that only 23% of adults will get their hearing screened during routine physical exams. To make sure you receive the help you need, speak out at your next appointment with a hearing health professional. Your hearing will thank you.