Does your spouse tell you to turn the television down on a regular basis? Do you have to ask your friends to repeat themselves whenever you get together? Is talking on the phone a tiresome task that you’d rather not bother with?
According to the National Institute on Deafness and Other Communication Diseases, there are 28.8 million adults in the United States that could benefit from the use of hearing aids. Approximately one in six adults has hearing loss, but many let it go, either not realizing it or choosing not to address it. Could you be one of them?
This situation is so extreme that it’s categorized as a major health concern. It not only affects a person’s hearing, but research shows that there is a link between hearing loss and an increased risk for the onset of secondary conditions such as:
- Anxiety and fear
- Balance issues leading to increased fall risks
- Cognitive decline – Alzheimer’s and dementia
- Frequent hospitalization
- Loss of self-confidence
- Social isolation
In addition to these issues, those living with untreated hearing loss are at greater risk for breakdowns in relationships and even divorce, loss of a job, loss of overall earning power, all of which could potentially lead to a vicious downward spiral in a person’s quality of life.
Hearing loss can stem from many sources like advance age, hereditary conditions, infection or illness, stroke, and noise-induced hearing loss (NIHL) just to name a few. While some companies are taking an active interest in the hearing health of their employees, some work environments are inherently more prone to causing hearing damage.
The military and gun ranges, for example, have loud, sudden explosions of noise that can be damaging without proper ear protection. Mechanics, factory workers, emergency personnel, and even schoolteachers can suffer from dangerously loud noises. Care must be taken to protect the ears, which is ultimately more cost-effective and less painful than suffering from a perforated eardrum due to a loud shriek or blast.
Approximately 24 percent of the U.S. workforce suffering from diminished hearing could decrease the effects of the loss by utilizing preventative measures. Unhealthy habits such as poor dental care, diet, excessive drinking, smoking, and overuse of medications or exposure to ototoxic substances also contribute to both tinnitus and hearing loss.
It’s a sad state of affairs that less than twenty percent of the population living with a correctable form of hearing loss does not seek treatment for the condition. Due to a litany of stereotypes, many of the people in need of hearing devices are uncomfortable with the thought or lack the knowledge to make an educated decision as to their options.
A large number of people simply adapt to the loss, often not even realizing they are experiencing diminished hearing. They turn up the television and radio, some learn to read lips, others tend to sit closer to stages or speakers in louder environments. Many don’t realize the detriment of not seeking help for their hearing loss, but there are multiple serious effects they could suffer, such as:
- The embarrassment of their hearing loss
- Sadness or depression at their inability to enjoy the things around them
- Anxiety about their relationships
- Inability to perform their job to their full potential
- Loss if independence
- Loss of self-confidence
- Reduced desire to interact with others, unwilling to leave the comfort and safety of their home
- Social isolation or feelings of being excluded from activities
- Safety concerns such as emergency alerts- fire, weather, natural disaster- infants or small children crying, fall risks, horns or emergency vehicles, someone shouting, even muggings and burglaries)
- Dementia is 5 times more likely to develop in people living with hearing loss
- The chances of cognitive decline increase
For those who choose to take the matter in hand and seek treatment, they can minimize these risks and reduce the chance of cognitive decline, and maintain their confidence in both their jobs and relationships. They can also enjoy being socially active and have an overall improved quality of life.
Everyone from small children to older adults are seen with a cell phone clutched in their hands these days. These devices, while offering the options for contact, entertainment, and safety, can also be utilized to keep those with hearing loss connected with the hearing world.
Many hearing aids on the market today can link via Bluetooth technology to smartphones, televisions, and even theater settings and doctors’ offices. They come in smaller sizes and are much more discreet, in either behind-the-ear or in-the-ear models. They’re available in a variety of colors, styles, and features. Some are able to be controlled by an app on the wearer’s smartphone.
Don’t let all this amazing technology go to waste. If you or a loved one may be suffering from hearing loss, make an appointment today to see a hearing health professional and see what options will fit your needs. Your tomorrow is filled with sounds just waiting to be heard.