It’s often suggested that we don’t fully appreciate the things we have until they’re gone, and this seems to be particularly true of our ability to hear. Hearing loss is not only hard to detect; it’s also tough to appreciate just how much hearing improves our lives.
As one of our prime senses, along with vision, hearing influences our mental, social, and physical health, so when we lose our hearing, we put our overall welfare in jeopardy. But repairing our hearing can have many health benefits that we never really stop to think about.
Here are three ways improving your hearing can enrich your social, mental, and physical health.
Hearing and Relationships
The foundation of any good relationship is communication, and with hearing loss, that foundation is compromised. Miscommunication, hard-feelings, and avoidance can all result from hearing loss and the barrier to communication it yields.
Hearing loss can be especially troublesome to a marriage, as Julie and Charlie Kraft had to find out the hard way.
For most of Charlie’s adult life, he has had a common form of hearing loss known as high-frequency hearing loss, in which he has difficulty hearing high-pitched sounds. And because the female voice is higher-pitched than the male voice, Charlie had a particularly challenging time hearing his wife.
But given that Charlie wasn’t conscious of his hearing loss, he thought his wife Julie merely talked too quietly, which was frustrating for him. At the same time, Julie thought Charlie spoke too loudly—not to mention that she constantly had to repeat herself—which was aggravating for her.
In this manner, hearing loss brings about a frustrating barrier to communication where both parties harbor bad feelings towards each other.
In Charlie and Julie’s example, they had the awareness to identify the hearing loss and to take action to tackle it. After Charlie started wearing hearing aids, he no longer had to speak so loud, and he began hearing new sounds, like the sounds of birds on the golf course. But the one perk he claimed he appreciated the most was the enhanced communication he had with his wife.
Julie agreed, and both conveyed how much stronger their relationship is without the burden of hearing loss.
Hearing and Physical Health
Does using hearing aids tend to make you more active?
The answer is yes, according to a survey directed by Hear The World Foundation, which found that 21 percent of those questioned reported that they exercised more after getting hearing aids. Additionally, 34 percent said they regularly participate in sports at least once per week, and 69 percent believe that their hearing aids have a positive effect on their overall health.
Hearing loss can make communication difficult to the point where people tend to avoid the social events and activities that they used to love. With hearing aids, you can pursue these activities more confidently, resulting in more exercise and better physical health.
Hearing and Mental Health
In a recent study, researchers from the National Institute on Deafness and Other Communication Disorders (NIDCD) found a strong connection between hearing loss and depression among US adults of all ages.
Other studies by Johns Hopkins University have connected hearing loss to general cognitive decline, including memory issues as well as an enhanced risk of developing dementia and Alzheimer’s Disease.
Clearly, the lack of sound stimulation to the brain with hearing loss produces several negative effects, ultimately causing an increased risk of depression, social isolation, and mental decline. But the good news is, studies have also shown that wearing hearing aids can reverse or prevent many of these problems.
How Has Better Hearing Improved YOUR Life?
Statistics are one thing; stories of real people reaping the benefits of improved hearing are quite another.
If you wear hearing aids, let us know in a comment below how your life, relationships, and/or physical or mental health has improved! You may end up inspiring others to take the first steps toward better hearing.