Hearing Loss

Untreated Hearing Loss

The link between hearing loss and depression has been reinforced by recent studies

There are several likely reasons that loss of hearing leads to depression in so many. Communication, which is vital to social interactions, becomes a source of stress when someone has to strain to hear others speak, and frequent misunderstandings result in embarrassment. After a while, people with untreated hearing loss begin to avoid social situations, particularly if they involve loud surroundings like parties or crowded restaurants where understanding speech is even more difficult.

Withdrawal tends to progress until the person gradually quits on life, choosing to remain in silent isolation rather than struggle to hear and communicate publicly. Hearing loss sufferers may think they simply cannot be helped because hearing loss is a "terminal" condition for which there is no cure. Older patients may feel their hearing loss is a signal that they are simply too old to participate in social activities. Cutting oneself off from society and activities is a red flag for depression.

Hearing loss and increased risk of falling

Falls are responsible for numerous injuries and deaths among Americans 65 and older. Older adults commonly experience brain injuries, hip and other bone fractures after a fall. Beyond the human cost, these serious conditions generate billions of dollars in healthcare expenses due to extended hospital stays, surgical interventions, and related treatments.

One of three adults (age 65 and older) falls each year, and falls are the leading cause of fatal and nonfatal injuries. The association between hearing loss and increased chance of falling is considered clinically significant. Research is ongoing, but it is reasonable to suggest that physicians inform patients of the link between hearing loss and falls, to advise having hearing tested annually, and to encourage patients to wear hearing aids when recommended by their hearing care professional.

Hearing loss decreases awareness of the surrounding environment and increases cognitive load. In turn, this raises the potential for falls.

The link between untreated hearing loss and development of dementia and Alzheimer's disease

​Multiple studies indicate hearing loss can be linked to the onset of dementia and Alzheimer's disease. Leaving hearing loss untreated could pose a serious risk that has not been widely shared with the hearing-impaired population.

Seniors with hearing loss are significantly more likely to develop dementia over time than those who retain their hearing. Declines in hearing abilities may accelerate gray matter atrophy and increase the listening effort to comprehend speech....Hearing aids may not only improve hearing but preserve the brain. Providing this information will encourage patients and their loved ones to make more informed and timely decisions about their hearing care.

"Blindness separates us from things but deafness separates us from people"

-Helen Keller

Hearing Loss Statistics

 

    • About 2 to 3 out of every 1,000 children in the United States are born with a detectable level of hearing loss in one or both ears.


    • More than 90 percent of deaf children are born to hearing parents.


    • Approximately 15% of American adults (37.5 million) aged 18 and over report some trouble hearing.


    • Men are more likely than women to report having hearing loss.


    • One in eight people in the United States (13 percent, or 30 million) aged 12 years or older has hearing loss in both ears, based on standard hearing examinations.


    • About 2 percent of adults aged 45 to 54 have disabling hearing loss. The rate increases to 8.5 percent for adults aged 55 to 64. Nearly 25 percent of those aged 65 to 74 and 50 percent of those who are 75 and older have disabling hearing loss.


    • The NIDCD estimates that approximately 15 percent of Americans (26 million people) between the ages of 20 and 69 have high frequency hearing loss due to exposure to noise at work or during leisure activities.


    • Roughly 10 percent of the U.S. adult population, or about 25 million Americans, has experienced tinnitus lasting at least five minutes in the past year.


    • 28.8 million U.S. adults could benefit from using hearing aids.


    • Among adults aged 70 and older with hearing loss who could benefit from hearing aids, fewer than one in three (30 percent) has ever used them. Even fewer adults aged 20 to 69 (approximately 16 percent) who could benefit from wearing hearing aids have ever used them.


    • As of December 2012, approximately 324,200 cochlear implants have been implanted worldwide. In the United States, roughly 58,000 devices have been implanted in adults and 38,000 in children.


    • 5 out of 6 children experience ear infection (otitis media) by the time they are 3 years old.

For more information visit https://www.nidcd.nih.gov/health/statistics/quick-statistics-hearing