The health risks of untreated hearing loss

If hearing loss is left untreated, it can increase the risk of other health issues. These include the following:


People with untreated hearing loss are more likely to develop cognitive decline or dementia than people with normal hearing1. This is probably because parts of the brain used for higher-level cognitive processing deteriorate when they are deprived of sounds2. Wearing hearing aids helps the brain to continue to process sounds normally, thereby reducing problems of concentration and fatigue.


People with even mild untreated hearing loss are 3 times more likely to suffer injuries through falling5 and are admitted to the hospital more frequently and for longer periods of time than people with normal hearing6. This could be because hearing loss reduces the sound cues on which your brain relies for environmental awareness and balance. Wearing hearing aids has been shown to improve balance compared to untreated hearing loss7.


Tinnitus can include ringing, buzzing, roaring, and other phantom noises in your ear. It predominantly affects people who have hearing loss8. Wearing hearing aids helps to stimulate the brain with more sound and often diverts attention from tinnitus. Stress can also trigger tinnitus, and the stress of having hearing loss may be reduced through treatment such as hearing aids. Additionally, some hearing aids offer dedicated features to directly lesson the perception of tinnitus. 
Learn more about tinnitus

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Yes. It is important to treat hearing loss to prevent the health risks associated with untreated hearing loss. Treating hearing loss can improve quality of life, communication abilities, and overall health. To start your journey to better hearing, try our free online hearing test.
Not addressing hearing loss can lead to a variety of negative health outcomes, including decreased quality of life, communication difficulties, and cognitive decline.
Hearing loss can make it harder to understand speech and other sounds, leading to communication difficulties and social isolation.
The brain may have to work harder to compensate for hearing loss, leading to cognitive decline over time.
Not addressing hearing loss can make daily activities and tasks more difficult, potentially leading to decreased independence and an overall decline in quality of life.
Yes, seeking treatment for hearing loss can help prevent negative health outcomes and improve overall quality of life and communication abilities.

Related articles

Lin F.R., Metter E.J., O’Brien R.J., Resnick S.M., Zonderman A.B., Ferrucci L. 2011. Hearing Loss and Incident Dementia. Archives of Neurology, 68(2), 214-220. 

2 Powell D.S., Oh E.S., Reed N.S., Lin F.R. & Deal J.A. 2022. Hearing Loss and Cognition: What We Know and Where We Need to Go. Frontiers in Aging Neuroscience, 13.

3 Chuan-Ming Li, MD, PhD1; Xinzhi Zhang, MD, PhD2; Howard J. Hoffman, MA1; et al. Hearing Impairment Associated With Depression in US Adults, National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey 2005-2010. JAMA Otolaryngol Head Neck Surg. 2014;140(4):293-302.

4 Lawrence BJ, Jayakody DMP, Bennett RJ, Eikelboom RH, Gasson N, Friedland PL. Hearing Loss and Depression in Older Adults: A Systematic Review and Meta-analysis. Gerontologist. 2020 Apr 2;60(3):e137-e154. doi: 10.1093/geront/gnz009. PMID: 30835787.

5 Lin F.R. & Ferrucci L. 2012. Hearing loss and falls among older adults in the United States. Archives of Internal Medicine, 172(4), 369-371.

6 Johns Hopkins University analysis of the National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey, or NHANES. Published in the Journal of the American Medical Association online June 11, 2013

7 Rumalla, K., Karim, A.M. and Hullar, T.E. (2015), The effect of hearing aids on postural stability. The Laryngoscope, 125: 720-723.

8 Source: Hearing Loss Association of America

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