Untreated hearing loss may be an underlying symptom for a larger health problem, such as cardiovascular disease or diabetes. Those with untreated hearing loss are at a greater risk for developing dementia and Alzheimer’s. Not hearing well can also lead to social isolation, relationship problems with friends and family, loss of income or earning potential, depression, anxiety and anger. And, because we hear with our brains, untreated hearing loss can also lead to cognitive difficulties. The brain can “forget” what it’s like to hear, making it more difficult to regain those pathways once individuals do seek treatment.
While most people know that the brain shrinks with age, you may not know that shrinkage is accelerated in those with hearing loss. According to research conducted by Johns Hopkins and the National Institute on Aging, older adults with untreated hearing loss lost an average of a cubic centimeter of brain tissue each year compared to those with normal hearing. MRIs from the study participants showed the atrophy in the regions of the brain responsible for speech and sound.
Scientists have been studying the relationship between hearing and the brain for decades. Their findings are used by hearing instrument manufacturers to improve the hearing solutions they provide consumers just like you. The good news is, the majority of presbycusis, or age-related hearing loss, is sensorineural in nature and can be treated with a hearing aid. While hearing aids do not restore normal hearing, 90 percent of hearing aid users are satisfied with the way their devices perform and report greater satisfaction with their daily routines.
Untreated Hearing Loss gleaned from Healthy Hearing article by Debbie Clason