Hearing Loss Costs More Than You Think

cost of hearing lossWhen we talk about costs, most of us think of monetary costs, however there are some things that cost us more than money; hearing loss is one of those conditions that will cost us more than the money in our pocket. While there are some hearing impairments that don’t respond well to treatment, the majority of individuals who suffer from hearing loss can be successfully treated with hearing aids or other assistive listening devices  Sure, these devices will cost us some of our hard earned dollars, but the real cost comes when hearing impaired individuals either delay treatment or opt for no treatment altogether.

Currently about 20 percent of the American population suffers from some degree of hearing loss – that translates into about 48 million Americans. The Hearing Health Foundation recently reported that from 2000 to 2015, the number of Americans with hearing loss has doubled. Shockingly, teens now have the same statistics as adults for hearing loss – for both adults and teens, hearing loss affects one in five individuals. While the lifetime economic impact of profound hearing loss can reach as high as $1 million per person in the United States, today we are going to look at some of the other costs.

Considering the fact that most older adults delay treatment of their hearing loss for five to fifteen years, the impact on their quality of life, is significant. Postponing treatment can leave an impact all aspects of their life; from social interactions to professional, academic and medical concerns, untreated hearing loss is serious. One doctor stated in a New York Times article that the capacity to hear is essential to overall health and it truly is.

The longer an individual experiences hearing loss, the more the brain becomes unable to process sound, even when an assistive hearing device is used. The sooner hearing treatment is started however, the easier it is for the brain to reengage its auditory pathways developed for processing sound. If individuals wait too long however, some of those pathways will be lost permanently. Other physical manifestations of untreated hearing loss are lack of sleep, stress, headaches, excessive fatigue, eating disorders, sex disorders and an increased risk of death.

Untreated hearing loss can have some serious emotional impacts as well. Patients who have delayed treatment often report the following conditions:

  • Frustration
  • Depression
  • Confusion
  • Cognitive impairments
  • Difficulty focusing
  • Distracting thoughts
  • Isolation
  • Anxiety
  • Embarrassment
  • Low self-esteem

There have also been several studies conducted that link hearing loss to an increased risk of dementia in elderly patients. In fact, there is a direct correlation between the severity of an individual’s baseline hearing loss and their cognitive impairment. In addition to social, emotional and cognitive costs, there is the safety of a hearing impaired individual to consider as well. They are at risk of not hearing traffic, fire alarms, car horns, warning shouts or even the sounds of emergency vehicle sirens which can all have disastrous consequences.

There are many excuses that hearing impaired individual may give for putting off treatment, but to be honest, most of them are completely invalid. Statements like “my hearing isn’t really that bad” or “hearing aids make me feel old” or even the “I can make do just fine without a hearing aid” are all unacceptable excuses for not seeking treatment. The cost of untreated hearing loss, even mild hearing loss, is just too great to ignore. If you or a loved one even suspect that there is a possibility of hearing loss, make an appointment with and audiologist to have a hearing test. Starting treatment now will save you unforeseen costs down the road.

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