Hearing loss is one of the most common medical conditions that older adults live with today. Nearly 1 in 8 people have some degree of impaired hearing, impacting an estimated 48 million people. Though hearing loss is a pervasive health condition, it remains underdiagnosed. According to the National Institute on Deafness and Other Communication Disorders (NIDCD), nearly one-third of people who have hearing loss and could benefit from using hearing aids, have never used them. This highlights widespread inaction when it comes to addressing hearing loss. Avoiding hearing tests and delaying treatment can worsen the impairment as well as contribute to other health risks. By detecting and intervening early, you can change the trajectory of your hearing health and improve the quality of your daily life!
Hearing Loss Symptoms
Hearing loss typically occurs gradually so it can remain unnoticed for quite some time. It is incredibly important to be able to recognize the symptoms and intervene as early as possible. Common symptoms include the following:
- Tinnitus: a buzzing or ringing like noise in one or both ears
- Increase the volume on electronic devices like your television, phone, speaker etc.
- Asking others to repeat themselves, speak louder, and/or slower
- Sounds are muffled or slurred, making it difficult to identify individual words
- Needing to move to a quieter environment to hear more clearly
- Finding yourself lipreading or pretending to hear during a conversation
- Being able to hear more clearly out of one ear compared to the other
These symptoms can be experienced mildly to profoundly, having multifaceted effects on daily life. If you have experienced any of these symptoms, even mildly, it is important to have your hearing assessed as soon as you can. Delaying treatment can lead to major effects that take a toll on all aspects of life.
Impact of Untreated Hearing Loss
Findings from a poll published by the American Speech-Language-Hearing Association (ASHA) in May 2021, reveals widespread inaction on hearing loss. The poll consisted of a national representative sample of nearly 2,500 adults and found that:
- 2 in 10 (20%) of adults have had a hearing test in the past 5 years
- 51% of all adults reported having hearing problems, but only 11% have sought treatment
These findings reveal not only is hearing health underscreened but there can be a significant delay in treatment for people who are aware of changes to their hearing health. Living with untreated hearing loss can impact people in significant ways. Common effects include:
- Strained communication: hearing loss symptoms create barriers for effective communication by reducing capacity to detect and process sound. This makes it challenging to completely hear what others are saying, respond, and engage during conversations. These challenges can contribute to miscommunication, frustration, and unpleasant interactions.
- Social Withdrawal: strained communication often produces fatigue as people with untreated hearing loss often have to overextend themselves in trying to hear. This can lead to people avoiding social interactions altogether – skipping out on events, gatherings, and participating in activities. This kind of isolation results in spending less time with family and friends as well as less of a social life.
- Health Decline: social withdrawal can affect mental health by contributing to loneliness, anxiety, and depression. Additionally, untreated hearing loss increases the risk of experiencing cognitive decline (and developing conditions like Alzheimer’s) as well as accidental injuries.
In addition to these effects, delaying treatment can worsen hearing impairment. Hearing loss can become more severe, heightening symptoms and their impact.
Fortunately, addressing hearing loss is a straightforward process that offers life-changing benefits. The first step is to schedule an appointment with us for a hearing test. Hearing exams involve a noninvasive and painless process that measures your hearing abilities in each ear. This identifies any existing impairment, the degree of impairment, and the specific type of hearing loss you are experiencing.
Once your hearing needs are established, we will be able to make effective recommendations to meet your individual needs. The most common treatment for hearing loss is hearing aids which are small, electronic devices that are designed to absorb and process sound. This provides significant support, maximizing hearing across all settings.
Treating hearing loss not only enhances communication but also strengthens relationships, enriches social life, and improves overall health! Contact us today to schedule an appointment.