Do you suspect you have a hearing loss? Perhaps others close to you have suggested it but it’s just so easy to put it off. For one thing, hearing loss often develops so gradually over years that your brain adjusts to the loss without you really noticing it. This however doesn’t mean it’s not affecting you. Unaddressed hearing loss can start to affect every aspect of your life – so much that it quickly becomes clear that treating a hearing loss becomes a quality-of-life issue. If you’ve noticed you are struggling to hear the people in your life or they’ve suggested you may have an issue, it’s important to take it seriously. Avoiding treatment in most cases can make existing issues much worse.
The importance of hearing
For years hearing loss was considered a minor issue, interrupting conversation, but nothing to take seriously. This may in part have been due to insurance companies who were able to avoid coverage due to the perceived benign effects of hearing loss. Today countless research has shown just how important healthy hearing is. An essential sense, hearing is our connection to speech and the world around us. We connect by enjoying music, the birds in the trees, and the wind blowing branches. We connect to others through sharing important ideas, making jokes, or even everyday banter. It gives us a sense of closeness and even intimacy with others. We also connect to the world by being ready for whatever comes our way. When our hearing is compromised, so is our reaction time in emergency situations which is why so many with hearing loss are at a higher risk of falls and accidents leading to hospitaliztions.
Hearing Loss and Dementia
When we are young, we are not often thinking so much of our cognitive health. However, for those 60 and older the risk of cognitive decline and dementia begins to rise. However, in truth, cognitive health is an important issue at every point in our life. Similar to cognitive decline, as we age the risk of hearing loss goes up. At 65 one in three people will have hearing loss and at 75 years and older, there’s at least a 50 percent chance that hearing loss will be present.
These two conditions do have a lot in common. For those 60 or older, the risk of dementia increases for those who have moderate and greater hearing loss by 36%. As the severity of hearing loss increases so does the risk of dementia. For those with a moderate hearing loss the risk is twice, for those with a profound loss the risk is tripled and those with severe hearing loss have fivefold the risk! Hearing loss deprives our brain of certain sounds over time. As our brain struggles to communicate without these sounds the brain struggles to fill in the blanks. In addition, the lost sounds can cause audio deprivation to parts of the brain increasing the likeliness of brain shrinkage and atrophy. However, with treatment of hearing aids, people are more inclined to hear lost sounds, decreasing the risk notably.
Rifts in Relationships
Hearing loss is a communication issue and as you struggle the relationships in your life can over time start to struggle as well. Even in the case of your significant others and family members you may get a sense of feeling alone even when surrounded by the people who know you the best. You’ll most likely find yourself struggling through conversation, often lost, and regularly exhausted as your brain attempts to piece together lost parts of conversation. Over time this can lead to a loss of confidence, chronic depression, and social isolation.
Spotting the Signs of Loss
Hearing loss is more common as you age however, it can start at any age due to exposure to loud noise, certain medications, chronic infection, or impact to the head. It’s important to look out for the signs of hearing loss now so you can be ready to prevent the devastating effects of hearing loss before they start to affect your relationships, your sense of self and cognitive health.
Don’t put off a hearing evaluation
If someone in your life has suggested that you have a hearing loss, reach out today and schedule a hearing exam now. Don’t put it off another day!