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What Happens If You Ignore Hearing Loss?


By Debara Felman

Hearing loss is extremely common in older adults, affecting one in every three people between the ages of 65 and 74 and affecting 50% of people aged 74 and over. There are varying degrees of hearing loss. Its severity can range from only having a little difficulty following a conversation in a crowded place, all the way to struggling to make out any sound at all. Regardless of the severity of your hearing loss, you must seek treatment from a medical professional as soon as possible; otherwise, your condition could continue to worsen, and it could also have a significant impact on other areas of your life.


Signs that you could have hearing loss

Hearing loss often worsens very slowly over time, which can make it very difficult to spot. In fact, by the time most people notice that they are having difficulty hearing and decide to book a hearing test, they often already have quite significant hearing loss. 

If you are concerned that you may have undiagnosed hearing loss, then the best thing to do is to book an appointment with a qualified audiologist who will be able to examine your ears and conduct a hearing test. Some of the signs of hearing loss to look out for include: 

Missing words or sentences

If you repeatedly miss words or sentences during a conversation, this could be a sign that you have hearing loss. Do you also find yourself looking at people’s lips? This could be because you are trying to lip-read to help your understanding.

Needing to turn up the volume

One of the most obvious signs of hearing loss is needing to turn up the volume on your television or radio. If you have the volume set very high and your friends or relatives are commenting on how loud you have your TV or music, then this too could be a sign that you have hearing loss.

Struggling to hear in a crowd

People with hearing loss often struggle more in situations where there is a lot of background noise, such as at restaurants or social gatherings. If you have begun to avoid social groups because you struggle to hear, this could be because you have hearing loss.

Having to ask people to repeat themselves

We all miss what people say every now and again, but if you consistently have to ask people to repeat themselves because you have missed what they have said, this is also a common sign of hearing loss.


What happens if you ignore hearing loss?

Aside from the most obvious consequence of untreated hearing loss, which is that your hearing loss could worsen, ignoring your hearing loss can also lead to other things that may have a profound impact on your health and well-being. If left untreated, hearing loss can lead to:

Mental decline

Studies have found that older adults with hearing loss can expect to see a much steeper decline in their cognitive function than those with normal hearing, which can, in some cases, lead to conditions such as dementia.

Depression

Hearing loss can make it more difficult for people to be social in environments such as restaurants, leading to social isolation and depression.

Impaired movement

Those with hearing loss are three times as likely to suffer a fall than those who have normal hearing because their inner-ear problems can affect their equilibrium and balance.

Slower walking speed

Hearing loss can also cause a person to walk much more slowly, which can affect many aspects of their daily life.

Lower quality of life

And lastly, when added together, these consequences of untreated hearing loss can result in a lower quality of life.


It’s important to realize that ignoring your hearing loss affects not only your life but also the quality of life of your loved ones and people close to you. Disabling hearing loss can lead to communication issues, which can be burdensome on your relationship and difficult for your friends, family, and loved ones to deal with.


Taking action against hearing loss

The good news is that by seeking help from an audiologist, your hearing loss can be diagnosed and then treated. Several factors may be responsible for your hearing loss - you may need some earwax removed, or you could have age-related hearing loss, in which case you would benefit from hearing aid. By merely seeking treatment, you can prevent yourself and your family from dealing with the consequences of untreated hearing loss, and you will have set yourself up for a much happier and healthier future.

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Bloom Magazine: What Happens If You Ignore Hearing Loss?
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