If you have hearing loss, you can find yourself in a vicious cycle where you can’t communicate well, which causes you to socially withdraw from activities you once enjoyed, like going to Brookfield Park with loved ones. This social withdrawal can lead to feelings of loneliness, which is associated with negative health effects, including ones that can exacerbate hearing problems.
However, there is a way to break this cycle and prevent feelings of loneliness: wearing hearing aids.
What the Studies Show
There have been a number of studies on the link between hearing loss and feelings of loneliness.
One Dutch study, published in 2009, found that hearing loss is correlated to elevated levels of distress, depression, somatization and loneliness.
For the study, researchers examined data from over 1,500 participants. They concluded that the odds of developing severe or very severe loneliness increase by 7% for every decibel signal-to-noise ratio.
Across all age groups, loneliness was the biggest issue among the youngest population, ages 18 to 30. The age 40 to 50 group had the highest number of significant associations.
How Loneliness Affects Your Health
According to research reported by the CDC, loneliness can have major health consequences. Social isolation and loneliness are associated with:
- 50% increased risk of dementia.
- 32% increased risk of stroke.
- 29% increased risk of heart disease.
- Higher rates of depression, anxiety and suicide.
- Greater risk of early death.
The Impact of Hearing Aids
Fortunately, studies show that hearing aids can help with feelings of loneliness.
A small study published in 2016 in the American Journal of Audiology had the objective of learning the effects of hearing aid usage on perceived social and emotional loneliness.
Forty older adults participated in the study. They completed the De Jong Gierveld Loneliness Scale prior to a hearing aid fitting as well as after four to six weeks of wearing hearing aids.
The researchers founded that participants experienced a significant decline in the perception of loneliness after wearing hearing aids for four to six weeks. Those with moderate-to-severe hearing loss experienced the greatest reduction. To learn more about the effects of loneliness or to schedule an appointment for a hearing aid fitting, call Augusta ENT today.