What Happens if You Don’t Treat Hearing Loss?

In Hearing Loss by Jennifer G. Mayer, Au.D., CCC-A

Jennifer G. Mayer, Au.D., CCC-A
Latest posts by Jennifer G. Mayer, Au.D., CCC-A (see all)

Although an estimated one in five people in the United States has hearing loss, the condition goes untreated for far too many of them. On average, a person with hearing loss will wait seven years before getting the treatment they need. The reasons for delaying getting treatment are quite varied, but the benefits of treatment range from improved communication to mental, physical, and cognitive health improvements. You or someone you know might be putting off getting treatment, so it is important to understand the reasons that can make someone delay these benefits. Let’s take a look at some of the common reasons a person might put off getting treatment as well as the benefits that are in store for those who get the assistance they need. 

Why do people delay getting hearing loss?

Each person with hearing loss has a personal story to tell about the reason they delay getting treatment. For some, the realization of hearing loss feels like getting older. Indeed, age-related hearing loss is one of the most common types of hearing loss, and it is nearly inevitable that those who live to the golden years beyond age 70 will have some kind of hearing loss or impairment. Although this age group is highly affected, younger people are demonstrating hearing loss at higher rates than ever. 

Many attribute that increase of hearing loss to the use of headphones and earbuds at loud volumes for extended periods of time. A diagnosis of hearing loss is by no means an admission of getting older. Others delay getting hearing assistance due to the false belief that it won’t make much of a difference. They might have heard stories from people who use old-fashioned hearing aid models that had technical issues. 

Many of those issues, such as feedback and poor audio quality, have been solved among the new models of hearing aids. Still others put off getting hearing aids because they think they are doing fine on their own. Indeed, we are remarkably able to get by in suboptimal circumstances, and many people can make do with only pieces of conversations and fragmented information. Although these people might feel like they are doing fine without assistance, living with untreated hearing loss can have serious consequences for many dimensions of health. 

What are the problems with untreated hearing loss?

Despite these many reasons that people put off getting treatment for hearing loss, they might be pointing themselves toward lasting effects on health and wellbeing. Untreated hearing loss is correlated with a wide range of physical health problems ranging from cardiovascular disease to diabetes. Although it is not as simple as hearing loss causing these conditions, they are highly correlated in the medical statistics. 

Untreated hearing loss is also connected to a wide range of mental health concerns. These concerns range from relationship struggles that are directly related to miscommunication to more serious conditions such as anxiety and depression. When they are unable to communicate easily with their loved ones and communities, some tend to recede from social life, and they can even isolate themselves. The lack of fluid conversation points toward a known connection with higher rates of dementia and cognitive decline. 

The statistics are clear that those who have untreated hearing loss are more likely to have dementia, including Alzheimer’s, and researchers are working to understand how and why that connection exists. The most likely explanation has to do with limited communication ability requiring the brain to work overtime, producing a chain reaction of negative cognitive effects. 

What are the benefits of treatment?

The good news is that getting treatment for hearing loss has been shown to erase or improve many of these conditions, including the statistical relationship with dementia and mental health issues such as depression. With the benefits of treatment so significant and the consequences of loss so dire, the choice is clear to pursue treatment. The first step in that direction is to schedule an appointment for a hearing test. When you get the test, you will be provided with a thorough diagnosis of hearing needs, and our team will point you toward the types of aids that can benefit you most.