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The Consumer Handbook on Tinnitus

Consequences of Untreated Hearing Loss

It is worth repeating: untreated hearing loss comprises the vast majority of the estimated 28,000,000 Americans with hearing loss: more than 22,000,000 Americans have not taken action to help themselves.


A common condition found among co-dependent relationships is depression. More than 18,000,000 people age 18 and older have a diagnosable depressive disorder in the U.S.4 The disease burden of mental illness on health and productivity in the U.S. is more than the disease burden caused by all cancers.5 The average age of onset is the mid-20s, it affects twice as many women as men, and by the year 2020, it is projected that mental illness will increase its present burden on society by 50 percent.6 Typically, depression associated with hearing loss happens gradually as the hearing loss becomes more debilitating. . .

Hearing Loss and Depression are Corroborated

The presence of hearing loss in and of itself may be a contributor to depression. A study by Bridges and Bentler7 revealed that depression was significantly more prevalent among those with hearing loss. In a six-year longitudinal study by Wallhagen and his team8 which comprised 356 hard-of-hearing men and women age 65 and older, there was more than a three-fold likelihood of depression at the six-year follow-up among the hard-of-hearing participants. . .


Your loved one sits at the restaurant table smiling at a friend talking to the group. You can tell on his face that he’s being polite as he struggles to understand each word. Your heart goes out to him, but there’s really not much you can do. It’s not a situation where you can interpret for him. Then he pops in with a statement that seems to come from left field. It makes no sense to anyone. A couple people even laugh, but he intended no humor in it. He suddenly realizes what he’s done. You want to crawl under the table with him in embarrassment.

If your loved one suffers the consequences of hearing loss because he refuses assessment or treatment and he’s already told you he hates the idea of wearing hearing aids, then this little story represents only a fraction of the situations both you and your loved one experience.

Anxiety is very commonly found among hard-of-hearing people. The experience of not hearing is associated with not feeling safe in conversations, misinterpreting words, responding inappropriately and feeling left out among people you love. These negative events can lead to frustrations, humiliations and embarrassments as well as anxiety. For some, it can lead to isolation that ends in despair. . .