2627 North Third Street, Ste. 100, Phoenix, AZ 85004 | 14418 West Meeker Blvd., Bldg. B, Ste. 102, Sun City West, AZ 85375
602-277-4327 | www.azhear.com
The Social and Emotional Effects of Hearing Loss It’s Not Just About Your Ears
As I have stated in this newsletter before, only about 1 in 5 people who suffer from hearing loss have their issues treated adequately and in a timely manner. In fact, a 2007 study published in Health Technology Access found the average person who could benefit from a hearing aid waits about 10 years before getting fitted for one. That is way too long for a number of reasons, but chief among sensorial condition. Whether our hearing loss is conductive (in the outer or middle ear), sensorineural (in the inner ear), or both, we begin having trouble hearing particular sounds, usually beginning with the highest frequencies. Eventually, if left untreated, a wide range of hearing can be lost. While that is a broad overview of hearing loss itself, it doesn’t begin to describe all the ways a patient’s life can be affected by it. Hearing loss is not simply an auditory condition; it is a social and emotional them are the ways hearing loss impacts our lives for the worse. From a purely physiological perspective, hearing loss is a
one as well. Our ability to hear is inextricably linked to our ability to communicate. Without effective communication, life can become isolating and overwhelming. Due to the link between our hearing and the way we interact with the world, it’s no surprise untreated hearing loss has been linked to other issues. The National Council on Aging recently found that older adults with hearing loss were 50% more likely to suffer from depression. “This study debunks the myth that untreated hearing loss in older persons is a harmless condition," said James Firman, president and CEO of the Council. Maintaining social interaction is crucial for our mental health, but that interaction can fade as hearing loss progresses. Those who don’t treat their hearing loss can end up socially isolated, confused, and frustrated. Hearing loss also increases the risk of degenerative cognitive conditions, like dementia. While researchers are still determining just why that link exists, many suggest it has to do with the brain having to exert itself
tremendously in order to infer what other people are saying. Due to this expenditure of energy, it weakens in other areas. In other words, the parts of your brain that used to perform other functions now have to focus on helping you hear. Add to this equation the frustration a patient feels knowing they used to be able to hear something but no longer can, and you have a recipe for escalating displeasure. With today’s diagnostic and treatment options, nobody should have to experience these ancillary symptoms before they begin to get their hearing loss addressed. The sooner hearing loss is treated, the less it affects the social and psychological life of a patient. So why wait to get somebody you know tested and treated for hearing issues? Nobody’s quality of life needs to suffer because of age-related hearing loss, but all too often it does. Let’s work together to fix this.
"Hearing loss is not simply an auditory condition; it is a social and emotional one as well. Our ability to hear is inextricably linked to our ability to communicate."
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