Multiple consequences of hearing loss

Hearing loss affects life in many ways. If untreated, hearing loss may have negative effects on the physical and mental health of a hearing impaired person, for example exhaustion, tense muscles, headaches, feelings of loneliness, distress or sadness.

Studies have shown how brain shrinkage and lower productivity levels at work can be linked to hearing loss. Other studies have shown that hearing loss can lead to social isolation and depression which threatens the well being of the hearing impaired. To this, a study suggests that hearing loss among seniors affects their personality, making them introverted and less outgoing.

On the other hand, an Icelandic survey has found that men who use hearing aids live longer.

The brain shrinks

With age, our brain becomes smaller. But the shrinkage seems to be fast-tracked in older adults with untreated hearing loss. According to a study from the United States, those with impaired hearing lost up to an additional cubic centimetre of brain tissue each year compared with those with normal hearing.

That structures responsible for sound and speech are affected in those with hearing loss was not a surprise to the researchers. Shrinkage in those areas might simply be a consequence of an "impoverished" auditory cortex, which could become atrophied due to lack of stimulation.

Reduced work rate

A larger study, carried out among employed Danes with hearing loss, shows that hearing loss in the workplace can lead to a greater physical and psychological burden when hearing aids are not used.

Hard of hearing people who have chosen not to use hearing aids display a greater level of physical and mental exhaustion by the end of their work day compared to those who use hearing aids.

According to the study, there are social costs and loss in productivity connected with reduced hearing in the work force.

Poorer physical and mental health

A link between untreated hearing loss and poorer physical and mental health in older adults has been discovered. Older adults with untreated hearing loss are more likely to require hospitalization and suffer from periods of inactivity and depression, according to the results of a study from Johns Hopkins in the US.

Researchers suggest, that the physical and mental decline seen among older adults with hearing loss may be related to social isolation, which can often occur as untreated hearing loss progresses over time.

Hearing loss affects the personality of seniors

Hearing loss has a deep impact on the personality and social life of the elderly. It is commonly known that people become less outgoing with age. This change of personality has been discovered to be amplified among people suffering from hearing loss.

The researchers suggest that the link between hearing loss and social withdrawal forms a threat to older people’s wellbeing.

Live longer - use hearing aids

Older men with hearing loss have a greater risk of dying from cardiovascular causes within a five year period compared with unimpaired men, according to an Icelandic study.

However, the use of hearing aid can reduce the risk of dying significantly and equalize the mortality rate to people with normal hearing.

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