What Are the Effects of Hearing Impairment on General Health?

Tuesday, 27th February 2018

What Are the Effects of Hearing Impairment on General Health?

Being deaf, hard of hearing or suffering from hearing issues is very distressing for those affected. In addition to having to accept one’s disability and relearn how to communicate, hearing problems can have significant impacts on health if they are not diagnosed and treated properly.

The Most Common Disorders

Some types of hearing impairment may be accompanied by dizziness, muscle tension or increased heart rate. There are disorders, such as chronic ear infections, that cause problems as well as pain in the ear canal, discharges or eczema.

Diminished Health

Because of the resulting stress, people with hearing problems may often have diminished health. They find it difficult to follow conversations with multiple people as well as communicate in general. They recognize they are prone to stress and get sick more easily. In particular, they are more tired, complain about frequent headaches, tinnitus, digestive issues, hypertension or loss of balance. These symptoms occur much less frequently or not at all among patients who follow a treatment for their hearing issue (wearing a prosthetic, for example).

Psychological Issues

The risk of mental weakness may increase in people suffering from hearing problems who, because of their disability, gradually pull away from socializing; they avoid interactions with those around them, no longer take part in family meals or stop going out with friends. In addition to depression, people with hearing issues may have trouble concentrating, feel shame, and lose all confidence in themselves.

However, according to recent studies, these psychological issues tend to develop especially in older people who are hard of hearing and do not use hearing instruments. Researchers observed over a 25-year period a higher risk of depression, dementia and death for such people over 65.

Hearing Loss and Cognitive Impairment

Recent studies have confirmed that cognitive impairment in people over 65 may be related to hearing loss. This cognitive decline leads to premature dependency on those around the person, lower quality of life, and higher medical expenses. 

Appropriate treating (wearing a prosthetic) as well as regular monitoring have proven effective in slowing down cognitive decline. The findings of these studies go even further and indicate that hearing-impaired people with prostheses have similar levels of cognitive impairment as those with normal hearing. 

In addition to handicapping and isolating people, hearing disorders have an impact on general health. However, these adverse health effects do not seem to have as severe of an effect on hearing-impaired people who regularly wear a hearing aid. Therefore, there’s no need to be alarmed: follow-up and personalized treatment will allow you to maintain your overall physical and cognitive health.

Aimé Masliah

* The hearing aids illustrated on this page may not fit your needs. An evaluation by an Audioprosthetist is required to determine the type of aid best suited for your type of hearing loss.