Is there a negative effect of untreated hearing loss?

 

Untreated hearing loss can have an effect on more than just our ears. There is now a significant amount of research on the negative effects of untreated hearing loss.

First, the psychosocial impacts of untreated hearing loss resulting in reduced quality of life including increased social isolation (Arlinger 2003); withdrawal, stress, depression (Castiglione et al 2016; Hsu et al 2016), anger, and fatigue negatively affecting families and relationships (Chia et al 2007; Sindhusake et al 2001) have been well documented. Conversely, the benefits of amplification by improving quality of life (psychological, social and emotional) have also been documented (Chisholm et al 2007; Boi et al 2012; Mulrow et al 1990). 

Second, there is an increased cost to the healthcare system, with increased need for support services and hospital services (Schneider et al 2010). 

Third, 30% to 40% of people with hearing loss are at greater risk of experiencing cognitive decline as compared to those who have normal hearing. Why? Likely due to a reduction in neural stimulation, loss of environmental stimulation, poor social interactions, and exhaustion due to increased auditory effort (Lin et al. 2013). 

Fourth, hearing loss has been linked to a range of disease processes including; 

  • an association with Type II diabetes (Bainbridge et al 2008)
  • cardiovascular disease (Gates et al 1993; Fisher et al 2014)

Fifth, research also exists on the increased incidence of falls in the elderly with hearing loss. Research shows that an individual with untreated mild hearing loss is 3 times more likely to fall down than those without hearing loss. The likelihood of falling increases as severity of hearing loss increases (Lin and Ferrucci 2012).

Finally, there is lost contribution to the economy and communities and increased risk of poverty (Jung et al 2012). 

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Speech-Language and Audiology Canada have designed an infographic giving an overview on the value of hearing aids

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