When we ask patients what took them so long to address their hearing loss, we frequently hear that they just assumed it was normal and harmless. While some hearing loss is normal with age, living with hearing loss should not be normal and can cause other preventable health issues. Untreated hearing loss can lead to depression.
According to the National Council on the Aging (NCOA) untreated hearing loss has serious emotional and social consequences. Their survey of 2,300 adults over 50 with hearing loss found that those who did not wear hearing aids were significantly more likely to report feelings of sadness, depression, fatigue and paranoia.
These finding make sense, when you consider hearing loss makes it difficult to communicate. When you are struggling to hear it’s easy to feel stressed and fatigued after even the simplest conversations. If hearing loss becomes severe enough, you may begin to withdraw from social situations all together in order to avoid the stress or discomfort of trying to communicate. The NCOA study found people who wore hearing aids were more likely to participate in social activities regulary.
Another study published in JAMA Otolaryngology-Head & Neck Surgery further studied this topic and found the association between depression and hearing loss was especially strong in women. As hearing loss became worse so did depression, except in people who are deaf.
Hearing Aids Help
A Better Hearing Institute study found that 9 out of 10 people reported significantly improved quality of life after wearing hearing aids. Everyone over the age of 55 should have their hearing tested yearly. Catching and treating hearing loss early greatly reduces the risk of struggling with depression and paranoia.
Family and friends are often the first to notice changes in hearing and attitude. Before quickly writing off a loved one’s behaviors as simply a side effect of aging, consider their hearing and talk with them about taking a free hearing test.