Hearing loss is invisible.
Unlike noticing you need glasses because your vision is blurry, we can’t see hearing loss, but those around us often notice it. It’s hidden in the inappropriate response to a question, in the request for someone to repeat what they said, or the complaint that people need to stop mumbling and speak up.
In fact an estimated 48 million Americans over the age 12 have some degree of hearing loss. It’s also the third most common condition in older adults behind arthritis and heart disease.
Perhaps the most staggering fact about hearing loss is that only about 20% seek help.
“Hearing loss is one of the most treatable human conditions there is,” shared Doctor of Audiology, Loren Lunsford, Au.D., CCC-A. “It’s important to recognize the issue and treat it as soon as possible for the best results.”
The term “use it or lose it” applies to your hearing too. It’s called auditory deprivation. Think of untreated hearing loss like not working out your muscles. If you have hearing loss, but don’t give your ears the help they need to relay sound to your brain, your brain can actually forget to hear certain sounds.
The first step to better hearing is understanding your hearing health.
FIVE SIGNS YOU MAY HAVE HEARING LOSS:
-You frequently think others are mumbling.
-You often strain to hear others speak.
-You ask people to repeat themselves, especially in places with background noise like restaurants or social gatherings.
-You turn up the TV or radio volume louder than others find comfortable.
-You have trouble making out consonants. (ie. Words like key may sound like tea.)
Some people with hearing loss may also compensate by avoiding social settings and activities, but when you can’t hear what’s going on around your your mental sharpness and communication abilities suffer. In fact, recent studies show a correlation between untreated hearing loss and an increased risk of cognitive decline and conditions like dementia and Alzheimer’s disease.
There is good news. New technologies have made it easier than ever to get hearing help for even difficult hearing losses. Even conditions like Tinnitus, a ringing or buzzing in the ears, which often have some type of hearing loss associated with them, may be helped with hearing devices that target those specific frequencies.
The first step to take if you suspect you or a loved one has a hearing problem is to get your hearing checked from a licensed hearing care professional. They will be able to test your hearing, review your results with you, and give you information on the best next steps.
If hearing aids are recommended then don’t be discouraged. Today’s technology is light years ahead of the technology even a decade ago. Some new hearing aids even feature cutting edge technology like fall detection alerts, remote programming, auto adjusting settings for different listening environments, and smart phone adjustments just to name a few.
The most important thing to know about your ears is they are all yours and the only ones you’ve got so be sure to take care of them.
*Sources: Starkey Hearing Technologies, Cleveland Clinic-Allied Hearing, Speech, and Balance Services