The Impact of Hearing Loss on Other Diseases and Conditions, and How Community Healthcare Providers Can Help

photo of a boy listening in headphones

Hearing loss does not exist in a vacuum.

Globally, hearing loss is the fourth-leading cause of disability, and it’s estimated that over 430 million people around the world require rehabilitation for disabling hearing loss.

Dangerously, hearing loss doesn’t need to be severe to make a direct and lasting impact on a person’s overall health: Even mild to moderate hearing loss can lead to cognitive decline. Untreated hearing loss is also strongly linked with increased risk of dementia.

The potentially devastating effects of untreated hearing loss is a key reason why communities must take a proactive approach to hearing testing. By identifying hearing loss early and accurately, healthcare providers can help their communities to avoid the negative health outcomes associated with undiagnosed or untreated hearing loss.

When hearing loss impacts communication: the effects of isolation and loneliness on health and wellbeing

The ability to communicate is absolutely essential to overall health and wellbeing. Communication is key to interacting with and understanding the world around you, and integral to effectively building and maintaining relationships. Effective communication is so integrated with overall health and wellbeing that it’s been directly linked to improved outcomes for patients.

Overall, the importance of a person’s ability to freely, meaningfully communicate—which includes the ability to understand others—simply cannot be overstated.
Hearing loss directly impacts a person’s ability to communicate. One study found that hearing loss resulted in an impaired ability to recognise and understand speech, a reduced ability to speak on the telephone, missing background or environmental sounds, struggling to identify the location of sounds, and exerting increased effort and focus in order to hear.

It’s not uncommon for individuals with hearing loss to withdraw from normal life when communication becomes difficult. This may happen because they feel embarrassed that they are having trouble communicating, because they are frustrated with their inability to interact normally with others, or because they are unable to do the day-to-day tasks required by their jobs or hobbies.

And while hearing loss on its own can be debilitating; the impact of social isolation and loneliness can be devastating, particularly for more vulnerable populations, like the elderly. In fact, social isolation is associated with increased mortality in older adults. And among older adults, social isolation as a result of hearing loss contributes to significantly an increased risk of depression, and cognitive decline.

Hearing loss and dementia: a unique connection

There is a particularly strong and well-documented link between hearing loss and dementia.

In fact, if someone suffers from hearing loss, that person has a greater risk of developing dementia. Globally, hearing loss is estimated to account for 8% of the nearly 10 million dementia cases which are diagnosed every year—that’s almost 800,000 cases of dementia.

The exact connection between hearing loss and dementia isn’t known, but it’s suggested that trouble communicating, caused by hearing loss, may accelerate the progression of dementia. Similarly, there may be a link between hearing loss and dementia that occurs when a person develops hearing loss after their dementia diagnosis: in this situation, a person’s inability to understand or communicate as normal may be misidentified as symptomatic of their dementia, resulting in untreated hearing loss, which only serves to worsen the effect of both conditions.

Improving overall community health and wellbeing with improved access to hearing testing

Undiagnosed or untreated hearing loss can quickly and easily escalate into, or contribute to, a range of negative health outcomes.

And while hearing loss costs communities around $750 billion globally, the impact is even greater when the diseases and conditions to which hearing loss is linked are taken into consideration. It is clear that when hearing loss goes undetected or untreated, communities pay the social and economic price.

But there are ways to reduce the impact of hearing loss on communities. By making hearing testing more accessible, communities can drive a more proactive, more impactful approach to care.

Unlike traditional hearing tests, which are typically deployed by trained audiologists in a hospital setting, AUDIMETROID is purpose-built hearing technology for community healthcare providers. It’s a lightweight solution that’s easily deployed in any number of community-based environments. Moreover, any community retailer or healthcare provider can safely administer a hearing test using AUDIMETROID, without formal training in audiology. The test itself takes only ten minutes, and results are easy to understand.

This means that patients don’t have to wait weeks for an appointment, they don’t have to travel great distances to attend their hearing test, and they don’t have to wait for their results.

By removing barriers to access and empowering community healthcare providers to offer critical care where and when their residents need it the most, AUDIMETROID is paving a pathway to care that is more easily navigable for communities and patients. Ultimately, this drives positive outcomes that go beyond hearing loss, and improve overall community health.

The best way to see if AUDIMETROID is right for your team is to see it in action. Get in touch with a member of the team to schedule your demo.

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