how hearing works

Consequences of Untreated Hearing Loss

Those who have difficulty hearing can experience distorted and incomplete communication that seriously impacts their professional and personal lives putting an individual at risk for isolation and withdrawal. Studies have linked untreated hearing loss effects to:

  • Avoidance or withdrawal from social situations
  • Reduced alertness and increased risk to personal safety
  • Impaired memory and ability to learn new tasks
  • Irritability, negativism and anger
  • Fatigue, tension, stress and depression
  • Social rejection and loneliness
  • Reduced job performance and earning power
  • Diminished psychological and overall health

Many important studies have been conducted to understand hearing loss and its relation to other serious health issues such as dementia, diabetes, heart disease, depression, and fall rates in older adults. When hearing loss is present at the same time as one of these health concerns, the term comorbidities is often used as it describes the presence of two or more chronic diseases or disorders affecting a person. Researchers have taken more interest in comorbidities including hearing loss as individuals who live with untreated hearing loss tend to face higher risk for other physical and cognitive issues.


In a recent report on dementia prevention and its risk factors, it was suggested that hearing loss and social isolation have a possible connection to dementia in later life.1

Although more testing needs to be done to find an affirmative link between hearing loss and dementia, researchers are more inclined to believe that hearing plays an important role in brain health. One study hypothesized that when a hearing loss is present, the brain must use additional resources to process and understand sounds.2 These resources may be taken away from other cognitive processes, such as memory.

If you think you or a loved one suffers from hearing loss, don't delay another day. Visit a hearing healthcare professional and take the first step toward a world of better hearing.


1Dementia prevention, intervention, and care, 2017, Livingston, Gill et al., The Lancet , Volume 390 , Issue 10113, 2673-2734

2Hearing Loss in older adults affects neural systems supporting speech comprehension, J Neurosci. 2011 Aug 31;31(35):12638-43. doi: 10.1523/JNEUROSCI.2559-11.2011.


How Hearing Works

Signs of Hearing Loss

Degrees of Hearing Loss

Noise and Hearing Loss


Consequences of Untreated Hearing Loss