Our ears are taken for granted every single day. We may not realize just how important they are but even simple tasks like standing and walking would not be possible without our ears. The liquid in our inner ears help maintain our sense of balance and help keep us upright. It goes without saying that our ears help us hear the innumerable sounds that we love to hear each day. Be it the cooing of our favorite bird or the tinkling laughter of our baby, our ears turn our world into a magical world of sound. This is why hearing loss robs us not only of our sense of hearing, but our entire worldly experience.
Hearing loss puts us at risk for several physiological and psychological health risks. These include depression, anxiety, dementia, cardiovascular disease, diabetes, and even stroke. A recent study by the University of British Columbia revealed that hearing loss that remains untreated can increase one’s sense of social isolation.
Researchers studied individuals aged between 60 and 69. Their finding was remarkable; it revealed that for every 10dB increase of hearing loss, the chances of social isolation multiplied by above 50%. Those with hearing loss that had not been treated tended to have diminished cognitive abilities; when compared to people with regular hearing, those with hearing loss depicted a cognitive decline of almost four years! This means that if a person who was 60 and had regular hearing, their hearing impaired counterpart of the same age showed the cognitive abilities of a 64 year old! This finding indicates that hearing loss cause rapid decline in cognitive skills, especially if it goes untreated.
You may wonder how social isolation and hearing loss are connected and why social isolation is a bad thing. Whenever we interact with people on a daily basis, we use our brain to come up with topics of conversation and utilize our language skills. This helps keep our brain active and working. Over time, due to social isolation and lack of social communication, these cognitive skills of language and memory are used far less and reach a state of decline.
When we avoid social situations, our mental health also declines since we no longer feel the security of love and friendship. We feel less valued and lonelier than ever, which turns into a vicious cycle of avoidance due to the fear of being rejected.
Researchers have found links to hearing loss increasing the chances of cognitive problems such as dementia and even Alzheimer’s disease. Injuries due to falling are also related to hearing loss due to reduction in the liquid within the inner ear, which can cause loss of equilibrium.
The problems are many, but can they be solved? Absolutely! Through the use of hearing aids, you can help gain back your quality of life and step out of your social isolation with confidence. You no longer have to worry about all the health risks related to untreated hearing impairment since using hearing aids drastically reduces the chances of dementia. Cognitive skills get a significant boost due to hearing aid use, and social relationships can also be rekindled due to being able to hear and participate in conversations once more. Why suffer in silence? If you have hearing loss, talk to your audiologist about getting hearing aids today.
Dr. Hubik received her bachelor of science degree in communication disorders as well as her doctorate of audiology from Texas Tech University Health Sciences Center (TTUHSC). In her youth, Dr. Hubik became interested in helping people with hearing loss to communicate more effectively and therefore pursued a degree in this field. Born and raised in this area, Dr. Hubik grew up in Anton, Texas and appreciates working with the people of West Texas. Dr. Hubik opened Cornerstone Audiology in March of 2007. She and her team are proud to serve the hearing needs of this community.