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Significant hearing loss affects roughly 12 percent of the United States population, and while being unable to hear can have deleterious effects on someone’s quality of life, work life and more, the vast majority of people wait anywhere from six to 10 years to finally address the problem. While the delay to get treatment can be due to a variety of factors, people’s concerns over cost and looking older are common, which is unfortunate.

reasons for hearing loss

From ordering at a restaurant to sharing in conversation with family and friends, many of the common joys of life can become tedious and frustrating when hearing is compromised. Thankfully, fantastic technology exists that can greatly improve almost anyone’shearing. Whether you’re just now letting yourself wonder if your ears aren’t what they used to be or you’ve been pretending everything is fine—when it clearly isn’t—for a decade, here are five reasons treating your hearing loss will improve your life.

You’ll Actually be Able to Hear
Even though it’s the most obvious reason to look into hearing aids and treatment options, for many people, “hearing better” can seem like more of an idea than a practical goal—especially given the subtle depreciation of hearing loss many people undergo as they age. Oftentimes, it isn’t until their hearing is improved that people realize the extent to which they’ve been missing out on life’s joys and subtleties. From dialogue on a favorite television show to the soft speech of young grandchildren, being able to hear changes lives for the better.

It Decreases Brain Atrophying
While it isn’t pleasant to think about, according to a study undertaken by the University of Pennsylvania, even mild hearing loss in older adults can contribute to atrophy in the auditory parts of the brain, making speech recognition difficult. While that bad news suggests that the longer you go without addressing your hearing problems, the worse it will show up in your brain, it brings to mind another problem: Brain atrophy is associated with dementia—something older adults definitely don’t want to court.

Some research even suggests that mild hearing loss can double your risk for dementia, while moderate hearing loss can triple it. If your hearing loss is severe, your risk is as much as five times higher than people without any hearing trouble. The good news? Treating hearing loss early can keep the auditory regions of your brain safe.

You’ll Feel Better
Not being able to hear affects much more than verbal communication. People who misunderstand what is said to them often frown as they try to comprehend speech that isn’t clear. A hearing aid can thus eliminate a sour face.

In addition, being able to hear and participate in conversation helps you feel more connected to those around you in your family, social networks and workplace. That feeling of connection is a quality that enhances self-esteem and improves confidence. Additionally, addressing your hearing loss will also make you less clumsy, because hearing and balance are closely related. A Finnish study revealed that even mild hearing loss can triple your risk for falls.

Your Life Will Improve
If you’ve been struggling with hearing loss, the chances are good that your work, family, love life, friendships and more have all been negatively affected. Imagine how good it will feel to have a conversation with your children without anyone getting frustrated due to misunderstanding or having to repeat one’s self. Imagine sitting through a work meeting and hearing every point your boss makes so that you can contribute without fear that you’ve missed something. Imagine what it will be like to be fully present to those around you once the barrier of bad hearing has been removed.

Not Treating Hearing Loss Can Make it Worse
When you don’t deal with your hearing loss, it isn’t as though the current state of your ears is in a time capsule. Hearing loss—when it isn’t addresses and treated—actually gets worse the longer it’s allowed to rage on unfettered. Don’t delay in tending to your hearing problem. The sooner you attend to it, the more of your hearing you’ll be able to preserve, which improves your hearing prospects for the rest of your life.

Being able to experience the sounds of the world around us is one of the greatest pleasures in life. Bach symphonies, children laughing, a heartfelt conversation, birdsong in spring—all these sounds add to the richness of the experience of being alive. While tackling hearing loss can seem daunting, experts can walk you through all of it and make sure that a solution is affordable. Protect your brain. Enhance your life. Get your hearing back.