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Hearing decline is dangerously sneaky. It creeps up on you over the years so slowly you barely become aware of it , making it easy to deny or ignore. And then, when you eventually acknowledge the symptoms, you shrug it off as bothersome and frustrating due to the fact that its real consequences are hidden.

For around 48 million American citizens that say they experience some level of hearing loss, the consequences are far greater than merely inconvenience and frustration.1 The Following Are 8 reasons why untreated hearing loss is a lot more dangerous than you might think:

1. Link to Dementia and Alzheimer’s disease

A report from Johns Hopkins University and the National Institute on Aging indicates that individuals with hearing loss are considerably more liable to develop dementia, including Alzheimer’s disease, in comparison with individuals who preserve their ability to hear.2

Whereas the explanation for the association is ultimately unknown, scientists believe that hearing loss and dementia might share a mutual pathology, or that a long time of straining the brain to hear could result in harm. A different hypothesis is that hearing loss frequently results in social solitude — a major risk factor for dementia.

Regardless of the cause, restoring hearing may be the best prevention, including the use of hearing aids.

2. Depression and social isolation

Investigators from the National Institute on Deafness and Other Communication Disorders (NIDCD), part of the National Institutes of Health, have found a strong relationship between hearing damage and depression among American adults of all ages and races.3

3. Not hearing alerts to danger

Car horns, ambulance and police sirens, and fire alarms all are engineered to alert you to possible dangers. If you miss these types of indicators, you place yourself at an heightened risk of injury.

4. Memory impairment and mental decline

Investigations suggest that individuals with hearing loss encounter a 40% larger rate of decline in cognitive ability compared to individuals with normal hearing.4 The top author of the investigation, Frank R. Lin, MD, PhD, of Johns Hopkins University, said that “going forward for the next 30 or 40 years that from a public health perspective, there’s nothing more important than cognitive decline and dementia as the population ages.” That’s the reason why increasing awareness as to the connection between hearing loss and cognitive decline is Dr. Lin’s leading priority.

5. Lowered household income

In a review of over 40,000 households carried out by the Better Hearing Institute, hearing loss was found to negatively impact household income up to $12,000 annually, dependent on the measure of hearing loss.5 Those who wore hearing aids, however, reduced this impact by 50%.

The ability to communicate on the job is critical to job performance and promotion. The fact is, communication skills are regularly ranked as the number one job-related skill-set coveted by recruiters and the top factor for promotion.

6. Auditory deprivation – use it or lose it

When considering the human body, “use it or lose it” is a slogan to live by. For instance, if we don’t make use of our muscles, they atrophy or reduce in size with time, and we end up losing strength. It’s only through physical exercise and repetitive use that we can recoup our physical strength.

The same phenomenon applies to hearing: as our hearing degrades, we get caught in a downward spiral that only gets worse. This is known as auditory deprivation, and a developing body of research is strengthening the “hearing atrophy” that can occur with hearing loss.

7. Underlying medical conditions

Despite the fact that the most common cause of hearing loss is connected to age and enduring exposure to loud sound, hearing loss is from time to time the symptom of a more severe, underlying medical condition. Potential ailments include:

  • Heart disease, high blood pressure, and diabetes
  • Otosclerosis – the solidifying of the middle ear bones
  • Ménière’s disease – a disease of the inner ear affecting hearing and balance
  • Traumatic injuries
  • Infections, earwax buildup, or blockages from foreign objects
  • Tumors
  • Medications – there are more than 200 medications and chemicals that are known to cause hearing and balance issues

As a result of the severity of some of the ailments, it is crucial that any hearing loss is rapidly evaluated.

8. Increased risk of falls

Research has discovered a number of connections between hearing loss and dangerous diseases like dementia, Alzheimer’s disease, depression, and anxiety. An additional study conducted by specialists at Johns Hopkins University has revealed still another discouraging connection: the connection between hearing loss and the risk of falls.6

The study suggests that people with a 25-decibel hearing loss, labeled as mild, were roughly three times more likely to have a track record of falling. And for every extra 10-decibels of hearing loss, the chances of falling increased by 1.4 times.

Don’t wait to get your hearing tested

The optimistic part to all of this negative research is the suggestion that maintaining or recovering your hearing can help to lessen or eliminate these risks entirely. For those that currently have normal hearing, it is more critical than ever to take care of it. And for all those suffering with hearing loss, it’s vital to seek the help of a hearing specialist as soon as possible.