Effects of Untreated hearing loss

Published 09/27 2010 02:39PM

Updated 01/17 2014 03:24PM

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The National Council on Aging released a study in 1999 on 2,300 individuals with hearing loss who were over the age of 50. The overall results were "... those with untreated hearing loss were more likely to report depression, anxiety, and paranoia and were less likely to participate in organized social activities, compared to those who wear hearing aids."

When I was fitting hearing aids, people did not come into my office because they were not hearing well, they came in because their hearing loss was affecting their life. Why spend the next several years compromised by hearing problems when you can easily get help?

It sounds like from your questions that you are avoiding the issue of getting help with your hearing problem. Hearing aids don't return your hearing to normal, but they do help you hear better, and more importantly, improve the quality of your life.

There is research indicating that the "use it or lose it" principle may apply to our ears as well. Delaying the use of hearing aids, which essentially deprives the ears of auditory stimuli at normal levels, can lead to a degradation of word recognition. In other words, an ear that hasn't been stimulated due to untreated hearing loss loses some of its ability to understand. Fortunately, this same research indicates that this degradation may be reversible in some cases with hearing aids, demonstrating again the positive affects of hearing aids.

Find a hearing care professional in your area who can discuss your concerns with you. Are you postponing hearing aids due to financial issues? There may be discounted hearing aids or payment plans available, or resources in your community to assist you. Are you postponing hearing aids for cosmetic reasons? Many new hearing aid styles have emerged in recent years for people who are concerned with cosmetics. Whatever your reasons, a good professional will listen to your concerns, and help you find solutions that work best for you.

Paul Dybala Ph.D. President & Editor-in-chief, Healthy Hearing

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