Hearing loss is a serious condition that tends to happen gradually, and symptoms are usually detected by around the age of 50.
To provide a quick overview of the condition, here are a few quick facts originally provided by the professionals at Beltone Hearing Care Centre in Moose Jaw.
Cognitive decline: Patients with hearing loss are shown to experience a 30 to 40 per cent greater decline in cognitive functioning, compared with those who display no signs of hearing loss.
Tinnitus: Tinnitus is a condition where patients experience an internal source of noise such as a constant ringing sound that others cannot hear. The condition affects one in five people, and 90 per cent of those who have tinnitus also have hearing loss.
Safety and balance: People who have mild hearing loss in the range of 25 dB (decibels) are shown to be three times more likely to have a history of falling. With each 10 dB increase, the chance of falling increases by 1.4 times.
Hypertension: Studies indicate a significant association between high blood pressure and the loss of hearing. Hypertension is also an accelerating factor for hearing loss in older adults.
Obesity: A higher Body Mass Index (BMI) and larger waist circumference among women is shown to be associated with an increased risk of hearing loss.
Osteoporosis: A study linking osteoporosis to hearing loss suggests that demineralization of the three middle ear bones may contribute to a hearing impairment as individuals age.
Isolation: Adults over the age of 50 who do not use hearing aid devices are shown to be more likely to report symptoms of depression, anxiety, anger and frustration, emotional instability, and paranoia, compared to those who use the devices. Hearing troubles may also lead to increased isolation.
Depression: The loss of hearing, if left untreated with a hearing aid device, typically leads to depression because of a diminished social life.
Eye health: Vision helps identify the source of a noise, and with visual troubles it becomes increasingly difficult to target the source of a given sound. The amplification of environmental sounds through a hearing aid helps to compensate for a decline in vision.
Heart health: The inner ear is highly sensitive to the flow of blood in the body. Studies show that a healthy cardiovascular system positively impacts hearing.
Smoking: Individuals who smoke cigarettes have a 70 per cent higher risk of developing hearing loss than non-smokers.
Diabetes: Hearing loss is twice as common among individuals diagnosed with diabetes. Adults with a blood glucose level that’s higher than normal – but still not high enough to be diagnosed with diabetes – have a 30 per cent higher rate of hearing loss, compared to adults with blood sugar levels that baseline within normal range.
Ototoxicity: Over 200 medications on the market are known to cause hearing loss due to being toxic to the inner ear, including anticancer drugs, some anaesthetics, Aspirin, and numerous environmental chemicals.
Here are a few additional facts concerning the loss of hearing:
- The treatment of hearing loss with hearing aid devices is the number one modifiable risk factor for dementia.
- Studies indicate a 94 per cent correlation between hearing loss and dementia, with an estimated 83 per cent of dementia patients also having a measurable loss of hearing.
- Mild hearing loss doubles the risk of developing dementia, and a moderate hearing loss increases this risk five-fold.
- Mild hearing loss is linked to brain atrophy, which in turn affects memory, speech, and cognitive functioning. Under-stimulation of the brain’s cognitive system usually leads to irreversible changes in brain functioning.
By using hearing aid devices, patients can notice:
- A restoration of cognitive function by up to 50 per cent within the first year of using hearing aid devices, granted early treatment has been administered.
- A drastic improvement in behaviour, sociability, and a patient’s attitude after the use of hearing aids, as reported by caregivers.
For more information about hearing loss, visit the John Hopkins Cochlear Center for Hearing and Public Health online at jhuCochlearCenter.org.