Aging Well – Hearing Loss and Your Health

Link Between Hearing Loss and Health

When was the last time you truly took stock in your hearing ability? If it’s been a while, there’s a good chance that your hearing has diminished over time, and you just didn’t notice. The National Institute on Deafness and Other Communication Disorders (NIDCD) estimates that 1 in 4 Americans between the ages of 65 and 74, and one-half of those 75 and older, have disabling hearing loss. Behind high blood pressure and arthritis, it’s the third most common chronic condition affecting older adults.

Unfortunately, the effects of hearing loss can have a major impact on your quality of life.


Hearing and Your Mental Health

A loss of hearing can impact your mental health more than you might imagine. With substantial levels of hearing loss, it’s easy to find yourself feeling isolated and alone. Activities that require considerable interaction with others are not enjoyable anymore – they’re stressful. This isolation can quickly spiral into a depression that’s tough to manage.


Hearing and Your Cognitive Health

Studies have shown that hearing loss is associated with accelerated cognitive decline in older adults. In fact, seniors facing hearing loss are significantly more likely to develop dementia than those who have retained their hearing. When your hearing nerves lose function, they stop communicating with the brain. The brain can then forget sounds over time and lose the ability to understand them.


Hearing and Your Physical Health

Just as with emotional health, a loss of hearing can also contribute to a decline in physical health. Research shows that individuals with hearing impairment perform less physical activity than those with normal hearing. Over time, a lack of physical activity can lead to chronic health issues like obesity, diabetes, and even heart disease.


Restoring Your Hearing

On average, it takes five to seven years for someone facing hearing loss to do something about it – don’t be a statistic! A hearing professional can evaluate your hearing and make recommendations for devices that can help. After all, a hearing aid does more than help you hear; it helps retrain your brain to hear the sounds you’ve been missing. HS

expert opinion on hearing loss and your health from cheryl ward, bc-his at audiology services of chattanooga

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