Although hearing loss is an incredibly common condition, many people put off getting the help they need. In fact research has shown that people tend to wait an average of 7 years after the time of diagnosis before getting hearing assistance. Why do people wait so long to get the help they need? The answers are quite varied, but some common trends come up when you ask people why they wait to get hearing assistance. Let’s take a moment to walk through some of the mental blocks that keep people from getting the help they need. With these barriers in mind, we can use our knowledge of what happens if you don’t treat hearing loss as a way to encourage treatment.
Why People Delay Treatment
The reasons that people put off getting hearing loss are quite varied. Some people don’t realize that hearing loss is a problem at all. Although they might have experienced miscommunication, they might not realize that hearing loss is the underlying cause. They might even speculate that everyone has trouble hearing sometimes and fail to realize that their condition is due to permanent hearing loss. Others realize that they have hearing loss but neglect to get treatment. It might feel like a hassle or an unnecessary expense. Some people see hearing assistance as a sign of aging. They would prefer to deny hearing loss as a way to put off facing the inevitable passage of time. Still others are skeptical about the benefits of hearing assistance. Although it doesn’t work for everyone, most people experience serious improvement in their communication ability. Improved communication isn’t only an intrinsic value for relationships and quality of life. There are other benefits to getting treatment for hearing loss, as well.
Problems with Untreated Hearing Loss
If a person allows hearing loss to go untreated, other serious problems can follow. In the first place, the inability to communicate easily with others can lead to social and emotional issues. When communication is strained, people can experience frustration, anger, embarrassment, or sadness. These emotions can lead to anxiety at the prospect of future interactions. A party or social gathering can be the most daunting setting for communication. When a person feels cut off from their community, friends, and family through these communication issues, depression can set in. Some people even become socially isolated, preferring to stay home rather than risk the frustration and embarrassment that comes with a failure to hear and communicate. These social and emotional issues are not the only problems associated with untreated hearing loss. The struggle to transform sound into meaningful thought puts a heavy strain on the brain. Our cognitive process tends to devote certain parts of the brain to this act of transformation, and other parts of the brain are tasked with complex thought and linguistic processing. When a person has untreated hearing loss, the brain recruits more gray matter to the simple act of turning fragments of sound into meaningful thought. That reallocation of mental activity has even been associated with higher rates of dementia among those who have untreated hearing loss than their counterparts without hearing loss.
The Benefits of Treatment
Although these problems are more are associated with untreated hearing loss, the good news is that many of these problems are stopped in their tracks or reversed when a person gets assistance. Improved communication ability through hearing aids can restore the fluidity of mental processes and conversations. When we have an easier time communicating, we are better able to engage with the world and mingle at social events. These connections with others are crucial to good mental health, as well. If you have been putting off getting treatment for hearing loss, these potential problems can inspire you to get the help you need. On the contrary, the benefits associated with treatment can encourage you to take the next step toward treatment. What do you need to do to get help? The first step is to schedule a hearing test. Once we have completed your diagnostic exam, we can recommend the right path of treatment for you, paving the way toward the many benefits that are in store.