The Risks of Going Without a Hearing Aid When You Truly Need It
As hearing aid experts, we hear people use a lot of excuses for going without the hearing aids they need. Some people think hearing aids will make them “look old.” Others think they’ll be too difficult to use, or that their hearing loss isn’t severe enough to warrant hearing aids. These are all based on myths about hearing aids, but the risks of untreated hearing loss are very real. Here are some of the risks of going without the hearing aids you truly need – and ways they can improve your life and health!
Your Hearing Can Get Worse
You may experience an increase in hearing loss with or without the use of hearing aids. This is a process that happens naturally as we age and the sensitive components of our ears wear out. However, some age-related hearing loss happens inside the brain. Hearing aids can help keep these parts of the brain sharp.
Hearing nerves need to be stimulated to continue functioning properly. When you experience any of the three types of hearing loss, the nerves don’t receive the stimulation they did when you had better hearing. Those nerves help you recognize exactly what you’re hearing. If they don’t function properly, it becomes more difficult to discern complex sounds like speech. Your brain has to work harder to understand what’s being said.
While hearing aids can’t reverse hearing loss, they can stimulate those nerves with a wider range of sound and keep their functionality from deteriorating. That means you’ll be able to better understand speech and participate in conversations.
Hearing and Memory Are Linked
If you don’t compensate for hearing loss with hearing aids, your brain is putting more effort into making sense of what you’re hearing. Giving the brain a workout sounds like a good thing; after all, many of us do crossword or Sudoku puzzles to keep our minds sharp. But in this case, the opposite seems to be true.
When the brain has to work harder to hear speech, it doesn’t have as much energy to devote to understanding or remembering it. This study from the University of Texas found that people who experienced hearing loss had better mental processing and memory after wearing hearing aids for two weeks.
If you wear hearing aids, your brain doesn’t need to struggle to hear. Instead, it can focus on remembering the important things. Correcting hearing loss with hearing aids has also been associated with a reduced risk of dementia, though studies are still being done to determine if and how much the risk is reduced.
Non-Hearing Risks of Untreated Hearing Loss
The health effects of not wearing hearing aids don’t end with hearing and comprehension.
Because the senses of hearing and balance are linked, hearing loss increases the risk of falling. If you’re a senior or vulnerable to falling-related injuries, hearing loss may be one of the least of your concerns after a fall. Increased balance that hearing aids can give you can lower your risk of injury and possibly even save your life.
The risks of untreated hearing loss aren’t just cognitive, but emotional. If you have a harder time comprehending speech, you may avoid participating in conversations or other activities centered around sound. This can lead to feelings of social isolation and can contribute to depression. Using hearing aids to treat your hearing loss can help you continue living a social life.
When it comes to going without hearing aids, the cons definitely outweigh the pros. Hearing aids don’t just help you hear better. They can improve your comprehension, memory, mental health, and even your social life! So if you’re living with hearing loss, don’t put off treatment – schedule an appointment to find the hearing aid that’s right for you.