Consequences of untreated hearing loss

What happens if your hearing loss goes untreated: effects and consequences

Hearing loss has various consequences, which can vary in nature: physical, psychological, and social. For this reason, it is necessary to act promptly to try to solve the problem. A pre-emptive hearing assessment can be carried out online and followed up by a hearing examination in the Amplifon centre nearest to you with one of our specialists. 

Does hearing loss get worse if untreated?

Hearing loss can have various consequences that can be grouped into three categories: physiological, in which the auditory nerve reacts less and less to auditory stimuli; psychological, which often manifest in the form of depression; and social, which commonly results from the isolation caused by not being able to hear one's surroundings well. For this very reason, when suffering from a hearing impairment, it is best to seek treatment.

What does untreated hearing loss mean?

Untreated hearing loss can become a hearing impairment. Hearing loss often evolves progressively leading to the total inability to hear sound in one or both ears overtime. For this reason, not treating it or underestimating it means diminishing your quality of life. Therefore, wearing an adequate hearing aid based on your hearing impairment is the best solution to counteract hearing loss and be able to live your everyday life to the fullest.

Untreated hearing loss, alzheimer and dementia

Age-related hearing loss can be considered a physiological condition associated with ageing. If left untreated, it can have serious consequences, such as dementia, aggression and depression that stems from the hearing impairment. 

Consequences of untreated hearing loss in children

A child can also suffer from hearing loss, and failure to treat it, can have serious effects on the child's development, causing problems with speech development or even school-related problems, such as low grades, that can later provoke psychological problems for the child with hearing loss. 

Physical consequences

Hearing loss can have physical consequences, such as dementia, speech disorder, headaches, fatigue and vertigo.

Dementia

Recent studies have found that people with moderate to severe hearing loss are up to five times more likely to develop dementia, especially when they are elderly. While the connection between hearing problems and dementia is still not entirely clear, some research has proven that not hearing well accelerates brain ageing and even leads to grey matter loss: struggling to understand sounds and voices puts a lot of stress on the brain and depletes the areas related to language and working memory, which are the same areas affected by Alzheimer's.

Speech disorder

Hypoacusis and delayed speech can be related by the fact that someone who cannot hear well will have to work much harder to understand sounds and voices, thus placing a great deal of stress on the brain and depleting the areas related to language and working memory.

Headache

Recent studies have found that hearing loss and headaches may be linked. One research in particular shows that patients suffering from headaches have a higher risk of developing tinnitus. The relationship between headaches and hearing loss has been discussed in different studies which suggest that migraines increase the risk of tinnitus, sensorineural hearing impairment and/or sudden deafness.

Fatigue

Hypoacusis and fatigue are related by the fact that a hearing impairment cases a person to make a greater and more continuous effort to understand sounds, voices and pay attention to their surroundings, resulting in fatigue that may accelerate cognitive decline.

Dizziness and vertigo

The ear is where the balance centre is located. Because of this, even when a hearing impairment does not directly affect balance, problems in the inner ear can trigger balance disorders, including vertigo. Hearing loss and balance problems occur almost simultaneously, which is why early intervention is crucial.
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Psychological consequences

Untreated hearing loss can have psychological consequences, such as stress, anxiety, aggression and depression.

Stress

There is definitely a correlation between hearing disorders and stress, A person suffering from hypoacusis must work harder to understand voices and sounds around them, generating a lot of stress in the brain, thus impacting on the quality of life and personality of the individual.

Anxiety

A hearing impairment, or hypoacusis can be a great source of anxiety triggered by not being able to properly hear voices, sounds, noises - such as city traffic, and in turn being unable to live well our day-to-day, causing a great deal of anxiety.

Irritability / aggressiveness

Aggressive behavior and irritability are among the main psychological problems that hearing impairments can bring. This symptom seems to appear more frequently among older people with hearing loss, and coul be linked to dementia, a physical consequence of hearing loss.

Depression

Depression can be a consequence of hearing loss on account of the social isolation and loneliness experienced with this impairment.

Social consequences: problems in everyday life

Hearing loss often has social consequences, such as a lower quality of life, problems communicating with others, limited independence, conflicts due to misunderstandings, trouble at school for younger children, and workplace problems.

Lower quality of life

Not being able to hear well or experiencing hardships in everyday life due to a hearing impairment, is a source of dissatisfaction for patients as they often report a lower quality of life than those who do not have a hearing impairment.

Problems in communication

Hypoacusis causes communication problems. Not being able to communicate well can then lead to a deterioration of the cognitive process, social isolation and, thus, depression.

Conflicts

Losing your hearing ability may result in an increase in miscommunications, even in everyday life when, for example, people are talking on the phone and the person with hearing loss cannot understand. Or, people with hearing loss may perform activities, such as watching television or waking up with an alarm clock, more noisily than others, thus annoying their family members and the people around them.

Limited independence

Not being able to hear can also result in limited independence as the patient, particularly the elderly, may require help with simple everyday tasks.

Problems at work

Those who suffer from hearing loss may also experience problems at work. Oftentimes, a hearing impairment may impact a person’s ability to understand others and thus affecting their work performance.

Problems at school

In younger children, a hearing impairment can result in problems at school, such as bad grades, being excluded by other children, difficulty making friends and, in general, having problems with processing information.

Identifying and treating hearing loss

If you are experiencing hearing problems that prevent you from carrying out your daily activities regularly, it is best to visit a specialist at one of our centres and ask for a hearing examination and find the adequate treatment as soon as possible.

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