Hearing loss is a condition that many people think they will never suffer from. Moreover, some think that if the condition does occur, it won’t be until they are much older. However, studies show that hearing loss can occur at any age. There are more than 360 million people worldwide with hearing problems, according to the World Health Organization (WHO). Shockingly, it is a condition that can start developing in people in their early twenties. In fact, only 35 percent of hearing loss sufferers are over the age of 64.

Another study found that a majority of people who experience hearing problems do not seek help until 15 years after symptoms start to show. An even more shocking fact from the National Institute on Deafness and Other Communication Disorders (NIDCD) claims that only 16 percent of adults that could benefit from using hearing aids have worn them.

Thus, one of the biggest problems is that people assume hearing loss is a normal part of the aging process that only occurs later in life. Some avoid seeking help because of the stigma associated with hearing aids. They think wearing hearing aids will make them feel old or cause others to perceive them negatively. No matter what the reason, the longer that individuals prolong seeking treatment, the worse the problem will become. Untreated hearing problems can cause other, serious issues to develop.

The problem grows

Hearing damage is like a hole in your favorite shirt. If you continue to ignore the hole and don’t fix it, it will grow until there is no way to repair it. Damaged hearing can be improved with the right care and hearing aids. However, your hearing will never be the same as it was before.

The damage is irreparable

Many do not realize that when you lose your hearing, it can’t be repaired. According to Action on Hearing Loss audiologist Abby Davies, once the hair cells inside the ear are damaged, they can never be fixed. Individuals must use technologies like cochlear implants or aids in order to improve hearing.

It impacts your job performance

Like other parts of your life, untreated hearing loss can negatively affect your work performance. A study by the Better Hearing Institute found that when left untreated, damaged hearing can cause a person to lose as much as $30,000 in salary a year. The study also linked it to decreased productivity, opportunities and success. On the other hand, those that did use hearing aids were two times less likely to be unemployed than their untreated peers.

It affects your quality of life

Mental health and hearing loss have been linked in a number of cases. Several research studies have confirmed that damages, to hearing, impact other aspects of a person’s life. The inability to hear affects an individual’s social life, makes people feel excluded and could lead to depression.

Hearing impairment is a disability that is frequently overlooked, even by those that suffer from it. Don’t think that auditory problems only happen to the aging population. If you experience any early symptoms of hearing loss, it is important to undergo a screening and receive the necessary treatment before it is too late.