Each year, hundreds of studies on hearing loss are conducted across the world. Through these studies, scientists have gathered important information about the underlying causes of hearing loss.

Many of today’s scientific hearing loss studies highlight the risks and dangers of living with untreated hearing impairment.

Recent research links hearing loss to several serious illnesses and conditions that can negatively impact your life, including:

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Depression and Mental Health

The National Council on the Aging conducted a 2,300-participant study about the effects of hearing loss on common mental health conditions including depression, anxiety, anger and paranoia. The results showed that people over 50 with untreated hearing loss were more likely to suffer from these mental health conditions than those who used hearing devices. The participants with more severe untreated hearing impairment, the study reported, were 8% more likely to be depressed than those who treated their condition.

Alzheimer’s Disease and Dementia

Dr. Frank Lin, MD PhD, has conducted several studies in the past two decades on the association between hearing impairment and diminished mental abilities. These studies conclude that older people with mild hearing loss are twice as likely to develop dementia as those with normal hearing, while moderate hearing loss leads to the risk increasing three-fold. Results were even less promising for seniors with severe hearing impairment, who, the study concluded, are five times more likely to develop dementia than their peers with normal hearing abilities.

Loss of Income

“The Impact of Untreated Hearing Loss on Household Income,” a study published by the Better Hearing Institute, reported on the correlation between severity of hearing loss and average annual income. Its results show that people with moderate hearing loss earn an average of $5,000 less per year than those with normal hearing. Furthermore, people with profound hearing loss made an annual average of $12,000 less than those with mild hearing loss.

Poor Health

A 2013 study published in The Journal of the American Medical Association looks at the correlation between hearing loss and health amongst Americans 70 and older. The results reveal a link between different degrees of hearing loss and the likelihood of being hospitalized and/or developing a major disease. The study concluded from analysis of the compiled data that seniors with hearing loss had a 5% higher rate of hospitalization within the previous year than those with normal hearing.

As these studies show, hearing loss treatment affects a lot more than just your ears. Despite these concerning health statistics, most people with hearing loss let their condition go untreated, therefore risking their health and happiness. Anyone over 50 and everyone with concerns about hearing loss should get an annual hearing evaluation.