Leaving your hearing loss untreated affects your ability to communicate and interact with your family and friends. It can also increase your risk for depression and cognitive decline.
How Hearing Loss Affects Your Brain
Your ears send auditory signals to your brain. That helps to keep your brain active and healthy. But your brain doesn’t receive as much stimulation as it needs when you have hearing loss.
Your ears may catch sounds, but your brain loses the ability to interpret them. Your brain function will continue to decline the longer you leave your hearing loss untreated. Our brains already shrink with age, and untreated hearing loss can speed up that process and cause irreversible damage to your auditory cortex.
A Change in Social Engagement
People with presbycusis, or age-related hearing loss, usually have trouble hearing high-frequency sounds and speech in loud environments. That makes it very difficult to carry on a conversation in a noisy restaurant or at a family gathering.
It’s common to feel embarrassed about asking others to repeat themselves or speak up. Mishearing conversations with loved ones can lead to frustration, so you may find yourself avoiding social situations altogether.
Isolation and Depression
The frustration of not being able to participate in social interactions can cause you to withdraw and may lead to self-isolation. According to a study conducted by the National Institute of Deafness and Other Communication Disorders (NIDCD), 11% of people with hearing loss also experience depression. Older adults are at an increased risk for isolation, which means they’re also at greater risk of developing depression.
Common symptoms of depression include:
- Feeling sad or hopeless
- Irritability or having a short temper
- Loss of interest in favorite activities
- Social withdrawal
- Lack of appetite
- Weight loss
The right hearing aids can help you maintain your cognitive function, improve social engagement and decrease your risk of depression. Contact Audiology & Hearing Services of Charlotte to schedule a hearing evaluation, and we’ll get you on the road to better hearing.