Hearing Loss Causes & Effects

Causes of Hearing Loss

Hearing loss can be caused by one or a combination of the following:
  • Aging - this type of loss is called Presbycusis
  • Noise - exposure to loud/high decibel sounds
  • Damage to the ear drum and/or the little bones in the middle ear
  • Viral or bacterial infections
  • Head injury
  • Tumors
  • Certain medications
A great deal of research also connects hearing loss to several chronic conditions, including: diabetes, thyroid disease, kidney disease and cardiovascular disease.

Effects of Untreated Hearing Loss

Among the effects of untreated hearing loss are:
  • Irritability, negativism and anger
  • Fatigue, tension, stress and depression – A study commissioned by the National Council on Aging in 1999 linked hearing loss to significantly higher rates of depression, anxiety and other social disorders.
  • Avoidance or withdrawal from social situations
  • Reduced alertness and increased risk to personal safety - A study by Johns Hopkins University researchers linked hearing loss to increased risk of falling. Even mild hearing loss can increase risk of falls by three percent compared to those with no hearing loss. Impaired memory and ability to learn new tasks
  • Reduced job performance and earning potential
  • Diminished psychological and overall health

Hearing Loss and Dementia

A study at Johns Hopkins University reported that hearing loss increases the risk of dementia by two times for individuals with mild hearing loss and up to five times for those with severe hearing loss, compared to patients with no hearing problems. While the study did not specifically conclude that early treatment of hearing issues will reduce the risk of dementia, it did show a positive correlation between the severity of hearing loss and risk of dementia.
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