If you suspect that you or someone you love is dealing with hearing loss you are probably wondering what to do next. There are a lot of misconceptions around hearing loss that need to be set straight. The biggest one is that hearing loss is not serious. Nothing could be further from the truth. Hearing loss starts as an ear issue but ultimately affects brain function, physical health and emotional well-being. The sooner you identify and treat a hearing loss, the better. Here are a few of dangerous misconceptions about hearing loss and the facts you need to help you take action:
Fiction: Hearing Loss Doesn’t Affect Many People
It is estimated that 466 million people worldwide (5.5% of the population) struggle with disabling hearing loss. This number is expected to rise to 1 in 4 people by 2050. In the U.S. alone 48 million (20% of the population) struggles with hearing loss.
Fiction: Only the Elderly Have Hearing Loss
Age related hearing loss is the most common cause of hearing loss. One in three people over the age of 65 suffer from hearing loss while one in two over 75 struggle with this issue. While hearing loss is often considered an affliction of the elderly this is not always the case. In fact, due to the misuse of personal listening devices such as MP3 players, hearing loss in a younger generation is on the rise. Currently about 40% of Americans with hearing loss are under the age of 60.
Fiction: Sign Language is the Best Way to Communicate with the Hearing Impaired
American Sign Language is a visual gestural language created by deaf people. It is used by approximately 250,000-500,000 North Americans. However, not everyone with hearing loss uses American Sign Language. It is a complicated language that takes years to learn. Many people who experience hearing loss gradually over time, are often not aware that they have a communication issue at all. Instead, many rely on lip reading, facial expression or body language, often without realizing it.
Fiction: Your Hearing Loss was Caused by Rock Concerts or Arena Sports
It is true that exposure to sound over a certain decibel threshold directly can injure your ears. However, there are several other ways to damage your hearing without ever exposing your ears to an excess of noise. Certain medications and chemicals are considered ototoxic and can damage the tiny hair cells of the inner ear which transmit sound to the brain. Other common causes of hearing damage include, infection, head trauma, tobacco use, diabetes and high blood pressure. Sometimes it’s a combination of many of these factors over the years which contributes to hearing loss.
Fiction: “My hearing loss is not that bad”
If you or someone you love has noticed a hearing loss, then it will certainly become a more serious issue down the road. Treating your hearing loss early, before it is severe can avoid many serious emotional and physical health complications. Untreated hearing loss over the years has been linked to depression, anxiety, social isolation, and cognitive decline. It has also been linked to higher rates of accidents, falls and hospitalizations, as you become less aware of physical space with the decline of the audio sense. Studies have shown that the brain starts to shrink when there is a lack of auditory stimulation. The longer you wait to wear hearing aids, the more your brain must relearn to hear sounds it hasn’t heard in years. When you first try on hearing aids after decades of hearing loss they may not initially seem as miraculous as you had first hoped. However, with dedication and discipline you can retrain your brain, using hearing aids.
Fiction: Hearing aids are too advanced
The hearing aids of today are miraculous, especially when compared to those of the past. They are also designed to be more user friendly than ever before. You can often program and adjust your hearing aids, using your Smartphone. However, if this feels like too much technology, we are here to help. Let us know what you want or need from your hearing aids and we can help you adjust them remotely. The beauty of technology is that it makes your life easier, and in the case of hearing aids, helps you to hear clearer than ever before.