What Happens If You Don’t Treat Hearing Loss?

What happens with untreated hearing loss

There are some things in life that will go away if you ignore them. For example:

  • Snow will eventually melt, whether you shovel it or not.
  • A headache can disappear on its own, whether you take medicine or not.
  • A virus can make you feel miserable for a while, but will eventually succumb to the disease-fighting efforts of your immune system most of the time.

Unfortunately, a loss of hearing isn’t one of those things. If you don’t treat hearing loss, it doesn’t go away and it doesn’t improve, unless it’s caused by something temporary. Let’s take a closer look at how untreated hearing loss affects your brain, your hearing health, and even your cognitive abilities.

Untreated hearing loss leads to auditory deprivation

Your ears are the mechanism by which sound enters your body. Without interpretation from your brain, however, the sounds won’t mean anything to you. 

When someone experiences hearing loss, fewer sounds make it to the brain. This results in auditory deprivation, or depriving your brain of sound stimuli. When you don’t treat hearing loss, those areas of the brain normally responsible for interpreting sound have little or nothing to do. They eventually shrink or atrophy, making them even less able to perform their intended function. It’s the classic ‘use it or lose it’ syndrome.

Even when your brain does receive the auditory stimuli, it may not be able to adequately process it if it has atrophied due to lack of use. This often exhibits as cognitive decline but could simply be a side effect of untreated hearing loss.

How many people suffer from untreated hearing loss?

According to the National Institute on Deafness and Other Communication Disorders, approximately 15% of American adults over age 18 experience hearing difficulty to some degree. What’s even more staggering, however, is that of those individuals over age 70 who could benefit from wearing hearing aids, 30% have never used them. That means there’s a good portion of the population living with untreated hearing loss.

5 steps to successful hearing loss treatment

Rather than living with the negative effects of untreated hearing loss, why not do something about it TODAY? Follow these 5 steps to ensure that you get the hearing help you need:

  1. Schedule a hearing evaluation. The best way to solve a problem is to find out for sure if one actually exists. When you have a hearing test and thorough hearing evaluation with an audiologist, you’ll learn more about the type and severity of your hearing loss. Both of these factors will influence treatment options.
  2. Listen to your audiologist’s recommendations. Your hearing healthcare professional has experience dealing with a variety of people and their hearing. Based on your hearing evaluation, they will be able to make recommendations that make sense for you and your particular situation.
  3. Understand what hearing healthcare is covered by your insurance. Insurance coverage for hearing tests, hearing aids, and other hearing services varies widely by insurance company. Find out exactly what your health insurance covers to help eliminate surprises.
  4. Research hearing aids and other hearing devices. Your audiologist may recommend hearing aids or another assistive listening device as part of a comprehensive hearing loss treatment plan. You should do some homework and research the various options so you’ll be able to make the best decision for you, your budget, and your lifestyle.
  5. Have realistic expectations. Understand that wearing hearing aids is different than putting on a new pair of eyeglasses. Hearing aid adjustments will be necessary, and your brain will need to get used to hearing again. In addition, you will need to learn about hearing aid maintenance and care in order to protect your investment.

Professional hearing loss treatment is available!

At Advanced Hearing Group, our audiologists are passionate about helping people in and around Mesa and Scottsdale, AZ get the best hearing healthcare available.  If you suspect that you have hearing loss, do yourself a favor and schedule an appointment with one of our audiologists. We are happy to do a thorough hearing evaluation, recommend appropriate hearing loss treatment, and get you on the road to better hearing today.

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