Addressing hearing loss early has its advantages. These include establishing a “baseline” to compare future tests for change, immediate enhancement of your quality of life, and helping protect against several health problems frequently linked to untreated hearing loss. The reason not to put off having a hearing test and seeking treatment is because we all actually “hear” with our brains, not with our ears. When we have hearing loss, the connections in the brain that respond to sound are likely to “reorganize” themselves. For many people, hearing aids are able to provide the sound stimulation needed for the brain to restore its connections for processing sound. As a result, the individual is able to better react to the sounds that they had been missing and cognitively process them into meaningful language.
The majority of individuals experiencing hearing loss can benefit from hearing aids. In recent years, technology has completely transformed almost everything about hearing aids. The newer hearing aids are more effective, comfortable, and easier to use. The benefits can be very rewarding. That is why the sooner that one can accept that he or she may have a hearing loss and start wearing professionally fitted hearing aids, the sooner the person will realize the benefit from improved hearing.
Just addressing hearing loss can, in itself, have a positive impact on quality of life. Many people with hearing loss who use hearing aids tend to see an improvement in their ability to hear in different environments. Many also experience an improvement in their relationships at home, at work, and in their social lives. They even feel better about themselves and life in general. Recently, research has uncovered a significant link between hearing loss and other health issues, such as cognition, dementia, depression and overall physical and mental health.
To gain a fuller appreciation of why it’s so important to treat hearing loss sooner rather than later, just consider some findings from the latest research on hearing loss and these health issues:
- Cognition: The inability of the brain to process certain sounds because they cannot be “heard” affects higher level cognitive functioning. Even a mild hearing loss that is untreated puts an increased workload on the brain to fill in the gaps and make sense of what was missing. The brain is working harder than before to understand what it hears.
- Dementia: Older adults and seniors with hearing loss are significantly more likely to develop problems with thinking and memory, and are more likely to be diagnosed with dementia than those who have normal hearing at their respective age ranges.
- Depression: There are an increasing number of studies and supporting information that shows that undiagnosed and untreated hearing loss have a high correlation with depression. Some studies indicate that individuals with hearing loss are 57 percent more likely to suffer from deep episodes of stress, bad moods and depression as compared to their counterparts with normal hearing. Other studies have also shown that working adults, ages 35 to 55 years old, with mild-to-moderate age-related hearing loss that remains untreated are more prone to depression, anxiety and increased sensitivity in their relationships with friends and loved ones.
The lesson here? Don’t put off until tomorrow what you can do today. Establish your baseline for hearing and have it checked today!