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Over 48 million people live with hearing loss. Though it is the third most common medical condition people experience today, it tends to be undertreated. Untreated hearing loss can have significant effects in overall health and wellness in significant ways. Hearing loss not only impacts hearing capacity but also physical health. Recent research shows that untreated hearing loss can take a toll on physicality and movement in everyday life.
Link Between Hearing Loss and Reduced Physicality
Numerous studies show that hearing loss can impact physicality. This includes mobility as well as performing everyday activities and movements. Two major studies that examine this link include:
- 2021 Study Published in JAMA Otolaryngol Head Neck Surgery. To understand the impact hearing loss has on physical health, researchers in Spain evaluated the hearing and physical capacities of 1644 people, ages 65 and older. Researchers examined physicality by measuring ability to perform daily tasks and movements, measuring weight, assessing balance etc. Of the 1644 participants, 13.6% had hearing loss and after assessing the data, researchers found an association with impaired lower extremity function, frailty syndrome, and disability in instrumental activities of daily living (IADL).
- Study by University of Jyväskylä and the University of Tampere. Researchers in Finland looked at the relationship between hearing loss and mobility. This study involved 848 people, ages 75-90 who had their hearing capacities and mobility tested for two years. Researchers found that people with hearing loss were more than twice as likely to limit their movements compared to people without hearing loss.
Reduced physicality and mobility includes moving less, spending less time engaging in daily activities, spending less time with loved ones etc. These studies support further research that identifies hearing loss as a risk factor for reduced physicality. This also highlights how hearing loss can affect physical health.
Impact of Hearing Loss on Physical Health
Hearing loss can take a toll on physical health in a few key ways. Imapired hearing makes it challenging to hear and process speech as well as sound. This produces a range of symptoms and effects that also impact physical health including:
- Strains communication: hearing loss results in the brain receiving less auditory information. This can create several symptoms including sounds being slurred or distorted, tinnitus – a buzzing or ringing noise in the ears, and difficulty hearing in environments with noise. These symptoms can be mild to more profound depending on the degree of hearing loss present. Symptoms strain communication and this makes it tough to engage in conversations – an essential aspect of daily life.
- Leads to social withdrawal: conversations can become unpleasant and require extra effort which leads to fatigue. Oftentimes, people can limit communication as much as possible as a result. This includes skipping out on social events and spending less time with loved ones. Social withdrawal is a common effect of hearing loss. Research shows that it contributes to the development of depressive symptoms which people with hearing loss can be more likely to experience.
- Increases health risks: in addition to depressive symptoms, untreated hearing loss can increase the risk of cognitive decline, falls, and accidental injuries.
Strained communication, social withdrawal, and increased health risks affect physical health. These outcomes can lead to people being less active, engaging less, and being less stimulated.
Benefits of Treating Hearing Loss
There are effective hearing solutions and technologies that transform hearing and overall health. Treating hearing loss offers life changing benefits including improving physicality. The most common treatment is hearing aids – electronic devices that provide the ears and brain with ample support asobring and processing speech as well as sound. This alleviates hearing loss symptoms and increases capacity to hear, allowing people to navigate communication with greater ease. Today’s hearing aids are savvier and more innovative than ever before. There are numerous features that enhance sound quality, reduce background noise, and clarify speech. This enablers people to easily engage in conversations and supports effective communication. People are better able to participate in social activities, spend quality time with others, and engage in everyday life. This enhances physicality and mobility which improves overall health and wellness.
Contact us today to schedule an appointment for a hearing consultation. Having your hearing comprehensively assessed is the first step towards life-changing treatment.