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Visiting your hearing health care professional to have your hearing tested is no small feat. It can sometimes take months or even years to work up the courage to seek help for hearing loss, largely because it is shrouded in stigma and shame. For similar reasons, it is common to feel apprehensive about wearing hearing aids. People feel old because of the need for them, think the visual appearance is unattractive, et cetera.
However, going the extra step and treating hearing loss with hearing aids, cochlear implants, or other hearing-assistive devices by an audiologist, people lead happier, healthier, and wealthier lives with a better quality of life overall, a study has found.
A study has found that people who wear hearing aids tend to earn more than those with hearing loss who do not wear them. The differential between the two groups increases with the severity of the hearing loss and that unemployment rates for non-users are twice that of hearing aid users. Substantial evidence points to the fact that people with hearing loss earn significantly less than people with normal hearing.
Positive Impact of Using Hearing Aids
People who use hearing aids report that their quality of life has improved and that hearing aids, or other hearing solutions like cochlear implants, have had a positive effect on their overall health. They report experiencing better sleep, better memory, less physical and mental exhaustion, and less depression than non-users.
The brain plays a vital role in our hearing ability and it is integral to comprehension and speech, too. The inner ear has hair cells that are responsible for converting the noise gathered by the outer ear into electrical signals, which travel along an auditory nerve to the brain. Every one of the hair cells is responsible for converting a pitch or frequency. They are also irreparable if they become damaged or die, so the brain must work harder to process information it is receiving due to the loss of that function. Hearing aids can prevent the mental fatigue that comes with untreated hearing loss.
Untreated Hearing Loss Decreases Earning Potential
An extensive scientific report, “Hearing Loss – Numbers and Costs,” by Professor Emerita Bridget Shield, Brunel University in London with the assistance of Professor Mark Atherton, Brunel University, London, outlines the considerable disparity between hearing aid users and non-users in regard to how much they earn. People with untreated hearing loss earn significantly less, on average, than those with normal hearing. They often hold less demanding jobs or retire earlier than people with normal hearing. People with untreated hearing loss are twice as likely to be experience higher unemployment rates, too.
Untreated hearing loss can lead to a loss of productivity and economic losses due to a poorer quality of life. It can also be a strain on social benefits like unemployment and pensions. Increased health care costs are another result as comorbidities associated with untreated hearing loss, such as cognitive decline and depression, require more frequent hospital visits.
The effect of untreated hearing loss on your quality of life can be quite profound. The more severe your hearing loss, the greater the loss in quality of life you are likely to experience. The Shield and Atherton report shows a correlation between the two and demonstrates that hearing loss has more of an impact on quality of life than many other chronic conditions, such as blindness and other vision impairments, Alzheimer’s, and dementia.
Many negative implications—physical, emotional, social—can be associated with hearing loss when left untreated. It can lead to social isolation and loneliness, which can then lead to depression. Various effects on family and personal relationships can also be at risk: strained conversations, impatience and frustration with repetition, eventual withdrawal. Untreated hearing loss can also influence your physical health and well-being and reduce physical activity. Combined, these indicators suggest that people with untreated hearing loss are more likely to have other chronic medical conditions than people with normal hearing.
When you tend to your hearing health, your overall health benefits in many ways, as well. You begin to notice a change and an ease of conversation with friends and family, and your work performance is more productive and confident. Make an appointment with a hearing health care professional to have your hearing tested and ask how you can maintain a regular hearing check.