Are you experiencing signs of hearing loss? You may not even know it. Many times, hearing loss can develop slowly over years—so subtly that your brain rationalizes the loss. However, just because you don’t know hearing loss is an issue doesn’t mean it isn’t affecting you. People wait on average seven to five years from the time they suspect they have an issue to address a hearing loss and at this point it increases the risk of rifts in your relationships, impact to your emotional health, cognitive decline leading to dementia and an increased risk of accidents leading to hospitalization.
Education and increased awareness around hearing loss is one of the best tools to diagnosing and addressing the issue before it progresses to irreversible impacts on your health and the quality of your life. Here are some frequently asked questions about hearing loss, along with the answers you need to empower you to seek treatment now!
How common is hearing loss?
The World Health Organization (WHO) estimates that 466 million people struggle with hearing loss worldwide, however WHO fears that by 2050 this number could rise to more than double (900 million!) In the United States alone 17 percent (or 36 million) of American adults report some degree of hearing loss. Part of reducing rising rates of hearing loss is understanding the risks, methods of prevention, and increasing access to treatment.
Is it true that only older people get hearing loss?
While age is a major risk factor for hearing loss, it is not the only one. While one in three people over 65, and half of those 75 and beyond have age related hearing loss, people of all ages are at risk. In fact, only one third of people with hearing loss can attribute it to advanced age. Perhaps the largest risks of hearing loss for people of all ages includes exposure to loud noise. WHO estimates that 1.1 billion people worldwide between the ages of 12 and 35 are at risk of hearing loss due to exposure to loud noise in entertainment venues and through personal listening devices via headphones. Other risks to hearing include certain medications, exposure to environmental toxins, blockages in the ear canal, impact to the head or chronic illnesses which limit blood flow such as hypertension, diabetes, and cardiovascular disease.
How can I tell if I need a hearing test?
Hearing loss can be hard to self-diagnose. However, knowing the signs can help you identify hearing loss for you and your loved ones. Common signs include:
- Speech or sounds seem muffled
- Issues understanding spoken conversation, especially in noisy or crowded places
- Issues hearing consonants in speech.
- Having to frequently ask people to repeat themselves or needing them to speak slower, louder, or clearer.
- Turning up the volume on the TV or stereo in order to hear.
- Ringing in the ears (tinnitus)
- Avoiding social interactions
What is the best solution for hearing loss?
Most cases of hearing loss are due to damage to the cells of the inner ear. This damage inhibits sounds from traveling from the inner ear to the brain and is irreversible. While reversing hearing loss isn’t currently an option, the most successful method for treating hearing loss is hearing aids. These digital devices are worn in or around the ear canal and can be programmed to amplify the sounds you struggle with, based on a hearing exam. With the use of hearing aids, people have been found to stay more socially active, fight depressive symptoms, and prevent cognitive decline.
Are hearing aids difficult to get used to?
Because people often wait so long to seek treatment for hearing loss, we often don’t realize its impact on our brain’s ability to process sounds until we can hear them again via amplification with hearing aids. The brain becomes accustomed to auditory deprivation over years and as sounds become amplified again, it may take some time to get used to them. We recommend giving it time. Start by wearing hearing aids at home for just a few hours at a time. Over two weeks we encourage you to wear them more and more until you are wearing them from the time you wake till the time you rest again. People report a 91 percent satisfaction rate with hearing aids after one year of constant proper use.
For answers to more questions, don’t hesitate to contact us today to set up a hearing exam and find out more ways that we can help you improve your hearing now!