Living with hearing loss
Hearing is an essential element of a good and healthy life.
The ability to perceive sound is not just a mechanism to alert us of our surroundings, it is a principal means of communication between human beings. It helps us share knowledge, build social connections, participate in communal and professional activities, and create emotive bonds with those around us.
Losing one’s sense of hearing can be a severe obstacle to our physical, emotional and social well-being. The implications of hearing loss differ from person to person, but the majority of people with hearing impairment experience a certain degree of social, psychological and physical distress.
The link between hearing loss and other chronic conditions
Hearing loss is very often connected to other health conditions – a phenomenon called “co-morbidities”. This can be because the onset of hearing loss is prompted by another, underlying health condition; or because hearing loss is itself the root cause of other conditions. For example, hearing loss often has severe psychological implications, because one cannot participate in social activities as easily as before.
In fact, the impact of hearing loss on relationships with friends and family, the ability to go out and the chance to enjoy leisure activities, culture and entertainment are cited as the most immediate implications of hearing loss by those who have it. This, in turn, means that people with hearing loss have an elevated risk of anxiety and depression.
The constant state of mental anxiety, in turn, may trigger physical manifestations, varying from headaches and muscle tension to high blood pressure and cardiovascular events.
A decrease in cognitive abilities might also be attributed to untreated hearing loss. As the brain is missing the sensory input from the ears, hearing loss has been linked to dementia and Alzheimer’s. In fact, research suggests that taking care of one’s hearing is the single most important modifiable risk factor against dementia, which individuals have at their disposal.