Undertreated & Undiagnosed: Age-Related Hearing Loss

Hearing loss is the third most common chronic health condition that older adults live with today. Even though it is extremely common, age related hearing loss is often undertreated. In fact, it is estimated that only a third of people who could benefit from treatment, actually receive it. Untreated hearing loss symptoms can take a toll on health and wellness in significant ways. It can strain communication, relationships, social life, and increase health risks. Extensive research shows that untreated hearing loss can increase the risk of developing cognitive decline, experiencing accidental injuries, and depressive symptoms. This highlights the importance of recognizing symptoms and intervening by seeking treatment. 

Widespread Inaction on Hearing Loss

Aging is one of the most common causes of hearing loss. Known as presbycusis, the risk of developing age related hearing loss increases with age.  According to the National Institute on Deafness and Other Communication Disorders

  • 1 in 3 adults, ages 65 – 74, have hearing loss
  • 1 in 2 adults, ages 75 and older, have disabling hearing loss

Though it is common among older adults, it is still widely undertreated. Various studies highlight a widespread inaction when it comes to hearing loss. This includes a recent study conducted by the American-Speech-Language-Hearing Association. Researchers polled nearly 2,500 adults and found that:

  • 2 in 10 adults have had a hearing test in the past 5 years, compared to 6 in 10 adults who have had their vision tested. 
  • More than 51% of people reported hearing issues but only 11% have sought treatment. 
  • 78% of those with hearing issues have been experiencing these challenges for 1 or more years, and over 35% have had trouble for 5 or more years. 

These findings show that even when symptoms are experienced for quite some time, they can be ignored. This deprioritizing of hearing health can have multifaceted effects that affect everyday life, health, and wellness. 

Recognizing Early Signs of Hearing Loss

Hearing loss typically occurs gradually. This means that symptoms can remain unnoticed for a while which can contribute to delayed treatment. Being able to identify symptoms can better help you intervene and take action to address your hearing health. Common symptoms include the following: 

  • Tinnitus: a buzzing or ringing noise in one or both ears. 
  • Struggling to hear in environments with background noise (restaurants, parties). 
  • Pretending to hear, feeling lost or confused during a conversation. 
  • Lip reading to help identify individual words. 
  • Sounds are slurred, muffled, or distorted. 
  • Frequently asking others to repeat something they’ve said or to speak louder/slower. 
  • Needing to move to a quieter space to be able to hear more clearly. 
  • Being able to hear better out of one ear compared to the other. 
  • Turn up the volume on your TV or other electronic devices. 

These symptoms can be mild to more profound, depending on the degree of hearing loss you are experiencing. Hearing loss symptoms make it tough to engage in conversations so people often avoid them as much as possible to cope. Social withdrawal is a common effect of untreated symptoms which includes skipping out on social events and spending less time with loved ones. This can strain relationships, social life, and increase the risk of developing depressive symptoms. If any of these signs seem familiar, it is important to have your hearing health comprehensively evaluated. 

Prioritize Your Hearing Health Today

Treating hearing loss offers numerous life changing benefits. This includes transforming your hearing health, communication, relationships, and supporting better health. The first step towards treating hearing loss is simple and involves having your hearing tested by a hearing healthcare specialist. Hearing tests involve a painless process that measures hearing capacity in both ears. This identifies any hearing loss and the specifics of your hearing loss which informs the best course of treatment. Once your hearing needs are established, your hearing healthcare provider will tailor treatment to meet your specific needs. 

The most common treatment for hearing loss is hearing aids. These are electronic devices that are designed to absorb, amplogy, and process speech and sound. This provides the ears and brain with ample support, alleviating symptoms and increasing hearing capacity. Hearing aids not only enhance hearing, but also communication which improves relationships. This also enriches social engagement and reduces a number of health risks. Contact us today to schedule an appointment for a hearing consultation.