Hearing aids have been proven to boost cognitive function and improve emotional well-being. But did you know that only 20 percent of the people who could benefit from hearing aids actually wear them? This might be due to certain misconceptions that exist about hearing loss. Here are 5 common facts and fictions about this prevalent health condition.
Fiction #1: Only older people are affected by hearing loss.
Fact: This is one of the biggest myths about hearing loss. While it is true that hearing loss is strongly associated with aging, 40 percent of Americans with hearing loss are actually under 60 years old. Age-related hearing loss (presbycusis) is still the common type, but young people are increasingly at risk for noise-related hearing loss due to an increased exposure to loud noise (such as music) in their leisure time. A recent CDC report found that almost 20 percent of people in their twenties already have a certain degree of hearing loss.
Fiction #2: My daily noise exposure is not causing damage to my ears.
Fact: Noise-related hearing loss is cumulative, and you may not notice that your loud work environment or noisy hobby is damaging your ears until it has become a more serious problem. But that doesn’t mean it’s not happening. If you frequently use power tools, mow the lawn, shoot guns recreationally or go to loud concerts or bars, it’s important to wear earplugs to prevent irreversible hearing damage from occurring. Care should also be taken when listening to music in earbud headphones, as the proximity to the eardrum means hearing damage can occur quickly.
Fiction #3: My hearing loss may be bothersome, but it’s not a serious issue.
Fact: Undiagnosed or untreated hearing loss could actually damage your relationships in significant ways. If you consistently have trouble communicating with your loved ones, this causes just as much stress and anxiety for them as it does for you. Untreated hearing loss can even lead to depression as people tend to withdraw from their social circles and become more isolated as their hearing loss worsens.
On the medical side of things, untreated hearing loss can be detrimental to your long-term cognitive health, increasing the risk of Alzheimer’s and other forms of dementia. Fortunately, hearing aids have been shown to reduce anxiety and depression, as well as help to safeguard cognitive function.
Fiction #4: If I had a hearing problem, I would know about it.
Fact: Not necessarily. A fairly recent CDC study revealed that about 24 percent of people between the ages of 20 and 69 who considered their hearing to be excellent actually had detectable hearing loss. The loss of hearing happens gradually and subtly, often without any obvious physical symptoms. Your loved ones may even notice that you have hearing problems before you do. As early detection and treatment of hearing loss is the best way to preserve healthy hearing, brain function, and overall health, you should go in for a hearing exam if your family members have noticed any irregularities with your hearing. Other signs that you might have hearing loss include: frequently needing others to repeat themselves, watching TV at a volume that is too loud for others, or feeling that everyone around you is mumbling.
Fiction #5: It’s fine to wait to get hearing aids as long as I can still hear a little.
Fact: Hearing loss becomes harder to treat the longer you wait. The reason for this is that your brain gets used to hearing fewer frequencies, making it harder for the auditory system to recognize those frequencies again when you start using hearing aids. People who have waited longer to begin treating their hearing loss often report that they hearing aids more difficult to adjust to. The good is that–thanks to neuroplasticity–your brain can “relearn” how to hear if you wear your hearing aids consistently.
Make your appointment for a free hearing consultation with Active Hearing & Audiology
It’s never too late to have your hearing tested and learn how hearing aids can dramatically improve your life. At Active Hearing and Audiology, we specialize in hearing solutions that help you hear in noisy environments so that you can stay active and enjoy your favorite social activities. Contact us to schedule your free consultation today!