The list of maladies enhanced by COVID-19 keeps growing. The latest might be your ability to hear.
Although not a direct symptom of the virus, further damage to your impaired hearing may result from social isolation.
Particularly for those treating hearing impairment with a hearing aid.
People relying on hearing aids for better hearing may be wearing them less. If they aren’t communicating with people as frequently, there may seemingly be less use for it. But that can reduce overall sound input to the brain and lead to auditory deprivation.
The world is filled with sound. Even those you don’t particularly need to hear: the birds chirping or the sound of a loved one working away in the other room. And there are the ones you do want: like your favorite song on the radio.
All of these sounds help keep your ears and brain tuned in. Without stimulation, it can cause further isolation and enhance hearing troubles.
If you or a loved one is using their hearing aid less, remember that it helps in more ways than you might think.
Another way that COVID-19 has put added stress on people with hearing troubles is maintenance. If hearing aids are not working well or need some care, people are less likely to visit their doctor.
When a hearing aid isn’t working well, it essentially acts as an earplug. Thankfully, hearing information is available through telehealth, and many clinics are offering curbside assistance to protect vulnerable populations.
Studies have shown that people with compromised hearing have a substantially higher likelihood of developing dementia. Research from Johns Hopkins University, for example, found that severe hearing loss can boost the risk of dementia fivefold.
Trouble hearing combined with social isolation may take the risk even higher.
Hearing loss is also associated with a greater risk of falls.
If you’ve been wearing your hearing aid less, or you know someone who’s been taking it out because of self-isolation, pop it back in. It could play a substantial role in long-term health and wellbeing.