Hearing loss is one of the most common medical conditions that people experience. According to the Hearing Health Foundation, 1 in 8 people live with some degree of impaired hearing. Impacting over 40 million people in the U.S., hearing loss is a public health epidemic that is often underdiagnosed. Impaired hearing often happens gradually so it can remain unnoticed for quite some time.
Additionally, it can be difficult for people to come to terms with changes to their health. This can lead people to ignoring symptoms and delay seeking treatment which can have profound effects on overall health and wellness. Acknowledging your hearing loss and intervening early can drastically improve your hearing and quality of life!
Understanding the Causes & Symptoms
There are various factors that can contribute to the development of hearing loss including:
- Existing Medical Conditions: such as cardiovascular disease, diabetes, hypertension, stroke etc. increase the risk of hearing loss.
- Environmental Exposure to Loud Noise: one time or consistent exposure to loud noise can damage the hair cells in the inner ear which makes it difficult to process sound.
- Aging: age related hearing loss, also known as presbycusis, is the third most common chronic health condition that older adults experience. This results from natural aging of the auditory system and/or health conditions that become older adults are at increased risk of.
Other causes include genetic history and head injuries. These contributors reduce a person’s ability to absorb and process sound which produces a range of symptoms:
- Tinnitus: a ringing or buzzing like noise in one or both ears
- Increasing the volume on electronic devices (TV, speaker, phone etc.)
- Needing others to speak loudly, slowly, and/or repeat themselves
- Ability to hear more clearly in one hear versus the other
- Moving to a quieter room or area to have a conversation
- Frequently feeling lost or confused while others are talking
These symptoms can be mild to severe and have the capacity to significantly disrupt daily life. Delaying treatment can worsen hearing loss and amplify its symptoms.
Impact of Hearing Loss
The cumulative impact of experiencing these symptoms constantly often takes a toll on all aspects of life by:
- Straining Communication: hearing loss symptoms make it difficult to engage in and follow conversations. People have a difficult time hearing and processing sound which hinders effective communication. This results in people with hearing loss over exerting themselves in trying to hear (reading mouths, nonverbal cues, asking others to repeat themselves etc.) which is an exhausting experience.
- Leading to Social Withdrawal: engaging in conversation can feel like too much work, leaving people feeling fatigued. People may avoid conversations altogether; avoiding social settings and events. This means spending less time with family, friends, and engaging in social activities. Social withdrawal can impact relationships by creating distance and tension.
- Overall Health Decline: isolation can also contribute to feelings of loneliness and depression which impacts a person’s mental health. Additionally, untreated hearing loss increases the risk of developing other conditions including cognitive decline. IT also increases the risk of accidental injuries, and unemployment.
Overlooking symptoms and delaying treatment only worsens health outcomes which is why it is so important to take action!
Fortunately, seeking treatment for hearing loss is relatively simple! The first step is to schedule an appointment for a hearing test. Conducted by one of our hearing healthcare specialists, hearing assessments measure hearing ability in both ears. This identifies any impairment, the degree, and specific type of hearing loss you are experiencing. Once your hearing needs are established, your hearing healthcare expert is able to discuss the best ways to meet those needs in your daily life.
There are several effective ways to treat hearing loss. The most common treatment is hearing aids which are electronic devices that are designed to collect, amplify and process sound; sharply increasing a person’s hearing ability. Similar to most electronics today, hearing aids have experienced significant innovation. There is a range of options that include various features and technologies that are easy to use, maximize hearing, and can be integrated easily. Treating hearing loss not only improves your hearing health, but enhances the quality and longevity of your life!