As you dream up New Year’s resolutions, don’t forget to add Improved Hearing to your list. One in three people over the age of 65 lives with hearing loss and while a majority would benefit from intervening with hearing aids, only a small minority actually do.
Focusing on better hearing health now can prolong healthier hearing in the future. Instead of waiting for the problem of hearing loss to become unmanageable, confronting and treating the condition can infuse vitality into many aspects of your life right now.
How hearing loss works
While a small percentage of babies are born with congenital hearing loss, most instances of challenged hearing are acquired later in life. Both the natural aging process as well as exposure to excessive noise can lead to a decline in our ability to hear. These factors harm the inner ear cells integral to the hearing process and result in sensorineural hearing loss, which is defined as damage to the inner ear. In most cases, sensorineural hearing loss is both irreversible and progressive.
As age or dangerous volumes wear away at the health of the inner ear cells, their numbers decline. Because they are responsible for receiving noise from the world around us and turning it into sound information, our ability to ‘hear’ the full spectrum of sound diminishes. We send less sound information to the brain for processing and we experience this as hearing loss.
The consequences of unacknowledged hearing loss
The initial symptoms of both age-related and noise-induced hearing loss are subtle. It begins with trouble deciphering what people are saying, which is known as speech clarity. You might find yourself asking others to repeat themselves or straining to make sense of conversation. When talking to other people — both loved ones and strangers — becomes difficult, we tend to avoid the effort or awkwardness of conversation. This leads to a sense of isolation and people with hearing loss suffer from a loss of connection.
On average, people wait about a decade before choosing to intervene in hearing loss with hearing aids. In that time, relationships are burdened and the implications of hearing loss can detrimentally impact mental, emotional and even physical health.
Among other ramifications, people with hearing loss are less active than people with healthy hearing and they become more dependent on caregivers as they lose a sense of self-reliance. It can put cognitive issues at risk, as people with hearing loss are much more likely to develop future cases of dementia and Alzheimer’s Disease.
In short, the health of our hearing reflects on many facets of our lives and prioritizing hearing health is an important pillar that supports overall quality of life.
How often should you have a hearing exam?
Many of us experienced routine hearing screenings as young children in school. After that, our pattern of hearing health checks may have changed, and drastically. It’s advised that people over the age of 18 have their hearing checked every decade. Once we reach 50 years old, the recommended frequency of hearing exams should increase so that we see a hearing health professional once every three years. Over the age of 65, you should schedule an annual hearing consultation.
Of course, you should see a hearing health professional as soon as you notice changes in the way you’re hearing and particularly if you’re noticing that hearing has become more difficult.
Treating hearing loss improves quality of life
While most cases of hearing loss that are acquired later in life are irreversible, choosing to acknowledge the condition and intervening can have life-changing results. Most people who wear hearing aids would recommend them to a friend and one of the most reported outcomes is improved relationships!
The simple act of wearing hearing aids to treat hearing loss reduces the likelihood of a future dementia diagnosis. And in the short term, older people with hearing aids are less prone to accidental falls.
Schedule a hearing consultation today
And, unlike other New Year’s resolutions that require a change in your daily routine, prioritizing your hearing health starts with one simple step: schedule a hearing consultation with our team today. We’ll guide you through the simple process of a hearing exam and chart a plan together for improved hearing all year long.