Physiological and Psycho-Social Conditions Associated with Hearing Loss
Close to 20% of people in the US, 48 million people, report some degree of hearing loss. That’s one in five people!
As we age, hearing loss becomes even more prevalent. By the age of 65, 33% experience some form of hearing loss. That’s one in three people!
Hearing loss can be mild, moderate, moderately-severe, severe, or profound, and it can vary across low, mid, and high frequencies. It can also be gradual but, if left untreated, hearing loss will worsen with time and phsical, physiological, and psycho-social conditions may result.
The vast majority of Americans with hearing loss have their hearing effectively treated with hearing aids which are incredibly sleek, compact, and so technologically-advanced that hearing is as clear as it’s ever been and you can stream music, TV, and radio to them.
It seems rather obvious that hearing aids help you to hear well. But, what often flies beneath thr radar are the adverse medical effects of not treating hearing loss or being fitted with a hearing aid. There are significant physical, physiological and psycho-social conditions that can result.
Social interaction becomes stressful for those with hearing loss because they have to strain to hear others speak. And even straining doesn’t guarantee that conversations are understood. Misunderstandings, misinterpretations, and embarrassment result which can lead to partial or complete avoidance of social situations which, in turn, can lead to depression.
According to USNews.com, “People with a 25-decibel hearing loss (classified as mild) were nearly three times more likely to have a history of falling than those with no hearing loss. Every additional 10 decibels of hearing loss meant an increased 1.4-fold risk of falling.”
Getting your hearing tested has far greater implications than hearing loss. Hearing loss can be an early indicator of diabetes and/or other cardiovascular conditions. Another reason for diabetics to have their hearing tested is that their hearing can be near normal or normal at the time of diagnosis but can steadily degrade over time.
Senior citizens that suffer with hearing loss are more likely to also develop dementia and Alzheimer’s disease than those who do not have hearing loss. If your L2L audiologist can diagnose hearing loss in the early stages, more of your hearing can be preserved and the progression of dementia and Alzheimer’s disease can be slowed down.
If your heart and blood vessels are in poor health, blood flow can be limited and can cause hearing loss, especially at lower frequencies. In effect, hearing loss can be a sign of cardiovascular disease. And the reverse is also true: a healthy heart positively affects hearing, especially in older adults.
The side effects of chemotherapy and radiation include fatigue, pain, sores, diarrhea, constipation, etc. However, three important side effects from certain chemotherapy medications that are not mentioned as frequently are temporary/permanent sensorineural hearing loss (SNHL), tinnitus, and loss of balance.