We all know hearing loss can impede communication and make life harder, but it turns out ignoring signs of hearing loss could be worse than we thought. According to a major study from The National Council on the Aging (NCOA), leaving hearing loss untreated may have “serious emotional and social consequences for older persons.” The study — conducted by the Seniors Research Group — found the myth that hearing loss is a “harmless condition” is just that, a myth.

The study conducted a survey of 2,300 hearing impaired adults aged 50 and older and they found that those with untreated hearing loss were more likely to report depression, anxiety, and paranoia. They also reported that they were less likely to participate in organized social activities compared to those who had hearing aids. All this may lead to social isolation and very real psychological conditions.

The problem here is not hearing loss itself, it is the consequences that come from  ignoring hearing loss. Hearing loss is one of the most prevalent chronic conditions in the United States and even across the world. According to the American Academy of Audiology, hearing loss affects more than nine million Americans over the age of 65 and 10 million Americans aged 45-64. Those numbers are huge, but the most problematic part is that three in five older Americans and six out of seven middle-aged Americans with hearing loss do not use hearing aids!

The study found that seniors with untreated hearing loss reported not just general feelings of depression, but “sadness or depression that lasted two or more weeks during previous years.” People with untreated hearing loss reported that others would get angry for no reason, which psychologists often identify as an indicator of paranoia. The study also analyzed social behavior and found that people who do not use hearing aids are considerably less likely to participate in social activities. Carolyn Holmes, PhD, of the Seniors Research Group said, “This survey is groundbreaking not only in the large size of the sample but also in the inclusion of 2,090 close family member or friends of the hearing-impaired respondents who were asked a parallel set of questions.”

The fact of the matter is, leaving hearing loss untreated may lead to many different psychological consequences. The good news? You can call us today and get your hearing health on track in order to prevent the many ramifications from ignoring symptoms. Do not treat hearing loss as a harmless condition — remember that only you can create your happiest and healthiest life!