Hearing loss is the third most common chronic medical condition that people navigate. Impacting nearly 1 in 5 people, over 40 million people experience some degree of impaired hearing. Though hearing loss is a pervasive health concern, it is often underdiagnosed. According to the National Institute on Deafness and Other Communication Disorders, nearly 29 million people could benefit from using hearing aids. Hearing loss typically happens gradually so it can be overlooked for quite some time. It is important to be aware of the symptoms, impact, and benefits of treatment for your overall health!
Hearing loss results in a reduced ability to hear and process sound which produces numerous symptoms that can disrupt daily life. Common symptoms include the following:
- Tinnitus: a buzzing, ringing, clicking like noise in one or both ears
- Sounds and speech is muffled or slurred
- Difficulty distinguishing words and following entire conversation
- Struggling to hear, especially in environments with background noise
- Needing to move to a quieter area to have a conversation
- Increasing the volume on electronic devices (phone, tv, speaker etc.)
- Asking others to speak louder, slower, and/or to repeat what they’ve said
These symptoms can be experienced mildly to profoundly, impacting one’s ability to manage personal and professional responsibilities. The experience of these symptoms can take a toll on various aspects of life.
Impact of Hearing Loss
Hearing loss has multifaceted effects that can take a toll on mental and physical health. A few profound ways that hearing loss commonly impacts people includes:
- Strained Communication: the symptoms associated with hearing loss makes it difficult to engage in conversations. Symptoms can lead to miscommunication, missing details, and increased stress and anxiety.
- Social Withdrawal: strained communication and hearing loss symptoms often leads to avoiding conversations and social settings. Social withdrawal and isolation are common effects of impaired hearing that can also contribute to loneliness and depression. Studies have shown that depression can be twice as likely for people with hearing loss than people without.
- Health Decline: in addition to impacting mental health, hearing loss can contribute to:
- cognitive decline: extensive research has established a link between hearing loss and cognitive decline. A 2019 study found that cognitive decline was 42% higher among people with moderate hearing loss and 54% higher among people with severe hearing loss.
- accidental injuries: people with hearing loss are more likely to experience injuries from falling. A 2012 study found that people with mild hearing loss were 3 times more likely to have a history of falling.
To alleviate symptoms and reduce the risk of developing further health issues, hearing loss needs to be treated. Addressing hearing loss has countless benefits that improve quality and longevity of life.
Benefits of Treatment
Treating hearing loss can significantly improve hearing ability, daily life, and health. Major benefits of treatment include:
- Enhanced Hearing: the most common treatment for hearing loss is hearing aids. These savvy devices are designed to absorb, amplify, and process sound which increases a person’s hearing capacity. Hearing aids alleviate hearing loss symptoms, allowing people to navigate conversations with greater ease and comfort. In being able to hear more clearly, people can communicate more effectively. Conversations require less (stressful) work, becoming more accessible and enjoyable.
- Improved Wellness: enhanced hearing and communication better supports people with hearing loss participating in social life. Hearing aids maximize hearing which allows people to have conversations, participate in activities, attend events etc. more easily and comfortably. This boosts a sense of independence, confidence, and overall wellness. Being able to spend quality time with others also improves relationships and mental health.
- Better Health: treating hearing loss reduces the risk of developing other conditions and health concerns (cognitive decline, depression, accidental injuries). Hearing aids actually improve cognitive function and mental health. Increased engagement (socially and physically) keeps the body and brain energized and nourished. This significantly contributes to improved health outcomes.
Treating hearing loss can truly be life changing. Prioritizing your hearing health begins with really simple steps. The first step is to schedule an appointment for a hearing test. Conducted by our hearing experts, our hearing tests measure hearing ability in both ears and determine whether a hearing loss is present. If it is, we will work with you to find the best solutions to meet your needs.