Hearing impaired individuals in American Fork have an increased risk for a number of physical, social and psychological health problems. Many of them withdraw from favorite activities, which can lead to isolation and loneliness, but research shows that wearing hearing aids can help.
Barriers to Treatment in Utah
How common is hearing loss in American Fork?
Hearing loss can severely impact many aspects of everyday life. The good news? For nine out of 10 people in American Fork, hearing aids are a beneficial solution. The bad news? Only around 20 percent of Utah residents who could benefit from hearing aids actually wears them. According to research published in JAMA Otolaryngology — Head and Neck Surgery,
over a 10-year period untreated hearing loss:
- Increases the risk of dementia by 50 percent
- Increases the risk of depression by 40 percent
- Increases the risk of falls by 30 percent
Why isn’t hearing loss always treated?
The 23 million American adults with untreated hearing loss are taking unnecessary risks. Their reasons for not seeking treatment vary; some deserve the benefit of the doubt—hearing loss usually develops so gradually, it can be difficult to notice the signs.
Others are aware of their condition but choose not to treat it for a number of reasons. They might believe there is a stigma associated with wearing hearing aids—perhaps they feel the devices will make them appear old. Others are doubtful hearing aids will improve their ability to communicate. A good number of people simply feel they can’t afford them; hearing aids and treatment for hearing loss aren’t covered by a lot of health care plans, including Medicare.
Do you need to treat hearing loss?
While these excuses have merit to some degree, simply ignoring hearing loss may be hazardous to your health.
Struggling to follow communications can lead to mental and physical fatigue; this is known as listening strain and can cause many people to skip social outings entirely. Doing so leads to isolation and loneliness; a recent Dutch study found that for every decibel drop in perception experienced by people under the age of 70, there is a corresponding seven percent increase they’ll experience severe loneliness.
The worse the hearing loss, the more severe loneliness becomes. This leads to some serious health problems such as stress, high blood pressure and a weakened immune system.
Many experts now consider social isolation as dangerous as smoking 15 cigarettes a day. It increases the risk of dementia by 40 percent and premature death by 26 percent. Those are sobering statistics!
There is a close connection between hearing loss, loneliness and dementia—one that scientists are still attempting to unravel.
Does loneliness increase dementia risks?
What is known is that loneliness causes an increase in stress hormones and inflammation, two known risk factors for dementia. Also at play? Withdrawal from social activities leads to a lack of brain stimulation, which can speed up cognitive decline.
Researchers are studying the connection now
Researchers from Johns Hopkins University are studying whether treating hearing loss can delay or prevent dementia and loneliness. The random controlled study began in 2018 and will wrap up in 2022. It is hoped that doctors will have a better understanding of the effects of hearing loss treatment on cognitive decline and will be able to come up with better solutions for those patients suffering from impaired hearing.
Make an appointment if you’ve experienced the signs of hearing loss.
If you have noticed any signs of hearing loss, schedule an appointment with an audiologist in American Fork as soon as possible. The quicker your condition is diagnosed and treated, the better your odds of avoiding many of the long-term complications associated with hearing loss.