Now that we’re nearly two years into the COVID-19 pandemic, we all understand the serious effects of loneliness on our mental health. However, for those who are suffering from hearing loss, these effects are magnified. We explore this connection below.
The Link Between Loneliness & Hearing Loss
Though people of all ages are at risk of feeling lonely, especially during these unprecedented times, living with untreated hearing loss may increase your likelihood. One frequently-cited study found that with each decibel decrease in hearing perception, the likelihood of developing severe loneliness increases by 7%.
It’s important to understand the difference between loneliness and social isolation. Social isolation occurs when someone does not have a lot of social contacts. Being social isolated means you have a limited number of interactions with other people per day, which is a measurable data point.
On the other hand, loneliness is a feeling. Some people report feeling lonely in a crowd, while others enjoy the time they have to themselves. Experts define loneliness as the gap between the number of connections you experience compared to the amount you’d like to experience.
Because hearing loss tends to make social interactions more uncomfortable, over time, you may choose to spend more time at home and avoid face-to-face interactions. This is because participating in conversations becomes challenging. As you become more socially isolated, you experience more feelings of loneliness.
The Impact of Loneliness & Social Isolation
A 2021 study reports that 36% of Americans experience serious loneliness. The researchers suspect this number has increased substantially since COVID-19 shut down the world.
Loneliness is associated with several conditions. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, feeling lonely can lead to an increased risk of anxiety, depression and suicide. These symptoms can be as damaging as regularly smoking 15 cigarettes a day.
The Importance of Treating Your Hearing Loss
Though not enough research has been conducted to know for sure if treating hearing loss with hearing aids can help prevent loneliness, most experts agree it can certainly help reduce it. People who choose to undergo treatment for their hearing loss are more likely to spend time with their friends and family and start participating in activities they once enjoyed, such as taking classes at Amarillo College. For more information about the benefits of treating your hearing loss or to schedule an appointment with a hearing expert, contact Amarillo Hearing Clinic today.