5 Health Risks of Hearing Loss

Doctor William C Lloyd Healthgrades Medical Reviewer
Medically Reviewed By William C. Lloyd III, MD, FACS
Written By Gina Garippo on September 13, 2021

About 36 million American adults have some degree of hearing loss. If you are one of them, you know all too well the frustrations it can cause. But did you know that hearing loss can cause other health-related problems as well? This means finding effective treatment for your hearing loss may be one of the best things you can do for your overall health. You should also understand how to protect yourself from the following risks.

  • Physical therapy exercises
    1. You’re more likely to fall.
    Studies show people with hearing loss are more likely to fall than those who don’t have hearing problems. Experts don’t know exactly why the risk is greater, but it could stem from inner ear changes or reduced awareness of your environment. Falls are dangerous because they can lead to fractures, trauma, and loss of independence. Ask your doctor for tips on preventing falls. 
  • Senior Woman Driving
    2. Driving can be dangerous.
    Let’s face it—our roads are dangerous enough. But if you have hearing loss, they can become extra risky. That’s because people with hearing loss often have problems hearing high-pitched tones—tones found in emergency vehicle sirens, honking horns, and other warning signals. Whenever you’re in or around traffic, use extra caution. 
  • Senior Woman Comforting Depressed Husband Sitting On Bench
    3. Your risk of dementia is higher.
    Compared with people of normal hearing, studies show those with moderate hearing loss have triple the risk of dementia. Why? One theory is hearing loss causes you to constantly strain to understand what you’re hearing, which puts stress on the brain. Researchers think this ongoing stress may lead to cognitive problems. Reduce this stress by seeking solutions for your hearing loss. 
  • group of seniors socializing
    4. You may become lonely.
    If you’ve become hard of hearing, it’s normal to shy away from some social activities. This is especially true if holding a conversation in a group setting or in noisy places like restaurants is a problem. But isolating yourself from others can raise your risk of serious health issues like depression and anxiety. To boost your mental health, make efforts to stay social and enjoy new activities.
  • construction worker, construction, worker, building, foundation
    5. You’re more likely to have an accident on the job.
    Workplace injuries can happen in virtually any line of work, and people with hearing loss need to be extra vigilant. Studies show the greater your hearing loss, the greater your chance of injury on the job. If you work in a risky environment, such as a construction site, talk with your employer about which duties might be safest for you. 
  • Doctor Showing Senior Female Patient Model Of Human Ear
    Seek help sooner rather than later.
    If you think you have hearing loss, talk with your doctor right away. Treatment that improves your hearing can greatly reduce hearing-related health problems. Early treatment can also prevent your hearing loss from getting worse. Ask your doctor about the many treatment options available, including hearing aids, cochlear implants, assistive devices, medication, and surgery. 
  • grandmother-with-grandchildren
    Be your own advocate.
    Hearing loss is often called an invisible disability because others can’t see it and often don’t know you have the problem. That means it’s up to you to be your own advocate. Many people feel embarrassed by their hearing loss. But remember, you aren’t alone. It’s a common problem. So be honest and tell others about your hearing loss. If you’re concerned about your safety, ask for help. Others won’t know what you need if you don’t tell them. 
5 Health Risks of Hearing Loss

About The Author

  1. About Falls. National Institutes of Health. http://nihseniorhealth.gov/falls/aboutfalls/01.html 
  2. Construction Industry. United States Department of Labor. www.osha.gov/doc/index.html 
  3. Hearing. American Automobile Association. http://seniordriving.aaa.com/understanding-mind-body-changes/hearing 
  4. F. Lin et al. Hearing loss and cognitive decline in older adults. JAMA Intern Med. 2013; 173(4):10. 
  5. F Lin, et al. Hearing loss and incident dementia. Arch Neurol. 2011; 68(2): 214-20. 
  6. F. Lin et al. Hearing loss and falls among older adults in the United States. Arch Intern Med. 2012; 172(4): 369-72. '
  7. Girard et al. Occupational noise exposure and noise-induced hearing loss are associated with work-related injuries leading to admission to hospital. Inj Prev. 2015; 21(2): 88-92. 
  8. Hearing Loss and Stress. Minnesota Department of Health and Human Services. http://dhs.state.mn.us/main/idcplg?IdcService=GET_DYNAMIC_CONVERSION&RevisionSelectionMethod=LatestR... 
  9. Highest Incidence Rates of Total Nonfatal Occupational Injury and Illness Cases, 2013. United States Department of Labor. www.bls.gov/iif/oshwc/osh/os/ostb3962.pdf 
  10. Untreated Hearing Loss in Adults—A Growing National Epidemic. American Speech-Language-Hearing Association. www.asha.org/Aud/Articles/Untreated-Hearing-Loss-in-Adults/ 
  11. What Is Hearing Loss? NIH Senior Health. http://nihseniorhealth.gov/hearingloss/hearinglossdefined/01.html 
  12. Workplace. Hearing Loss Association of America. www.hearingloss.org/content/workplace
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Last Review Date: 2021 Sep 13
THIS TOOL DOES NOT PROVIDE MEDICAL ADVICE. It is intended for informational purposes only. It is not a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. Never ignore professional medical advice in seeking treatment because of something you have read on the site. If you think you may have a medical emergency, immediately call your doctor or dial 911.