Acknowledging the Reality of Hearing Loss
Hearing loss is a growing medical condition that impacts over 40 million people. According to the Hearing Health Foundation, 1 in 4 adults who report good or excellent hearing, actually have some degree of impaired hearing.
Though hearing loss is a common health concern, it is often underdiagnosed and unaddressed. One reason for this is that it often occurs gradually so people may not realize their hearing is changing for quite some time. Another reason is that accepting the reality of hearing loss can be difficult. People may feel that it is a sign of declining health and something they simply do not want to deal with.
There are also several misconceptions about hearing loss that may prevent people from addressing their hearing loss. Being able to acknowledge and detect impairment early can drastically help improve hearing as well as overall health and well-being!
Identifying the Symptoms
Awareness of the symptoms of hearing loss can help you identify what you are experiencing. Common symptoms include:
Tinnitus which refers to a ringing or buzzing sound in one or both ears
Difficulty following entire conversations as sounds are muffled
Increasing the volume on electronic devices (TV, phone, speaker)
Frequently asking others to speak loudly, slowly, and/or repeat themselves
Difficulty identifying specific words
Needing to move to a quieter area to hear more clearly
Difficulty hearing in settings with background noise
Reading mouths to distinguish words
Being able to hear better in one ear over the other
Cupping one ear with hand
Experiencing these symptoms strains communication and engaging in conversations is difficult which can lead to:
Fatigue: people often exert lots of energy in trying to hear. They overwork themselves and their auditory system which is exhausting. Social interactions can be draining and feel like too much work, leading to serious fatigue.
Social withdrawal: strained communication and fatigue can cause people to avoid social interactions, gatherings, and activities. This may mean that you miss important events and quality time with others; creating distance and tension in relationships. This kind of isolation can impact mental and emotional health by contributing to loneliness, depression, anxiety etc.
Untreated hearing loss can exacerbate these symptoms and worsen the impairment. Treatment can alleviate this and significantly improve overall health.
There are numerous misconceptions about hearing loss that may prevent people from acknowledging their experience. A few misconceptions include:
Only older adults are impacted: people often think that only older adults experience hearing loss. However, hearing loss can be caused by environmental exposure to loud noise, genetic history, and existing medical conditions which people of all ages can be impacted by. According to the Hearing Health Foundation,
nearly two-thirds of people experiencing hearing loss are under 65 years old
1 in 5 children ages 12-19 have some degree of hearing loss
It’s not a serious condition: because hearing loss is not a fatal health concern, people assume that it is not all that serious. But as previously described, hearing loss is a medical condition that can impact all aspects of one’s life. One of the major effects is strained communication which impacts how we navigate and perceive the environments we are in. It can also increase the risk of accidental injury, cognitive decline, and unemployment.
Talking loudly solves the issue: people often think that increasing the volume on electronic devices or speaking loudly solves the problem which is not true! Shouting and increased volume are not effective and sustainable strategies. They can also actually worsen hearing impairment.
Hearing aids are too noticeable: people may avoid addressing their hearing loss because they imagine hearing aids to be bulky and too noticeable. But like many other electronics, hearing aids have experienced significant and exciting innovation over the years. They are smaller and savvier than they have ever been. There is a wide range of options that have various features and technologies that allow you to seamlessly integrate it in your daily life.
Addressing hearing loss is relatively uncomplicated! The first step is to schedule an appointment with our team of hearing professionals who will assess your hearing. Hearing tests determine any impairment, the degree, and type of hearing loss you may have. This informs the most effective treatment option to best meet your hearing needs!