Hearing loss can be scary. Like eyesight, your hearing is an essential part of how you communicate with others. Many individuals live full, complex lives with absolutely no hearing at all. However, it can be challenging for someone who has heard clearly their whole lives to start losing this natural ability.
If you or someone you love is experiencing difficulty with hearing, it’s important to seek professional treatment as soon as possible. Hearing loss is more common than you may think and can happen to young adults as well as seniors. Fortunately, there are good treatment options available to help protect your hearing. Here are five things you should know about hearing loss.
1. It Affects All Ages
Yes, hearing loss can be a natural part of aging. However, many young people and even children also experience hearing loss. For example, two in every 1000 kids born in America come out of the womb with some form of hearing loss. In addition, one in every eight Americans over twelve has some level of hearing loss in both ears.
Men are more likely than women to be affected by hearing loss. Statistically, older adults tend to experience the most hearing loss between the ages of 60-69. However, it is possible to lose hearing function much earlier in life. Even very healthy individuals can experience hearing loss. If you realize you’re having trouble hearing normal sounds, you should talk to a doctor as soon as you can.
2. It’s a Spectrum
Most audiologists classify hearing on a spectrum from mild to profound hearing loss. Individuals with mild hearing loss may struggle to hear whispers and soft sounds. Moderate hearing loss means that you may have difficulty understanding speech at a normal volume. Nearing the other end of the spectrum, people with severe hearing loss can only hear loud sounds clearly.
Profound hearing loss is close to deafness on the hearing spectrum. Individuals at this point will only be able to hear very loud sounds and won’t understand normal conversation. Regardless of the cause of your hearing loss, it’s always wise to get treatment as soon as you notice trouble with your hearing. Your doctor can objectively test your hearing levels and determine how poor your hearing is. Then, they can proscribe the appropriate treatment.
3. It Can Be Treated
The earlier you address hearing loss, the more likely it is that you can prevent further damage to your hearing. People who wear hearing aids are often able to preserve their present state of hearing. The cause of hearing loss can vary widely, from too much wax in your ear to strong medication or exposure to loud noise. There are two main types of hearing loss: conductive and sensorineural hearing loss.
Conductive hearing loss is when something blocks or impedes the progress of sound into your ear. This could be swelling, hard earwax or a damaged eardrum. Most often, conductive hearing loss can be reversed. Sensorineural hearing loss happens when the inner parts of your ear or brain are damaged. This damage is generally not reversible, but your hearing may still improve with auditory aids.
4. It Affects Mental Health
In addition to affecting your physical function, hearing loss can also negatively impact your mental health. That’s one of the reasons it’s so important to seek treatment as soon as you notice a problem. People with poor hearing may struggle to engage with others because communication is difficult for them. This can lead to feelings of frustration, low self-confidence and loneliness.
Hearing loss has also been connected with dementia. Listening to sound stimulates your brain and keeps it working constantly. When adults lose their hearing, they lose this stimulation as well as their connection with others. Hearing aids can help to slow the effects of dementia by keeping adults engaged with the world around them. Activity and stimulation can be challenging withoua t good hearing.
5. It May Be a Symptom
In some cases, issues with your hearing may be a sign that you have an underlying problem. For example, some individuals who are developing diabetes may have trouble with their hearing. This isn’t always the case, but there is a clear connection for some patients. Some scientists believe this is connected to issues with blood pressure.
Tinnitus, or a ringing in your ears, can be caused by high blood pressure or allergies. However, you can also experience tinnitus if there’s too much wax in your ears. Your body is a fine-tuned machine and hearing loss can result for many different reasons. If you experience a sudden loss of hearing, it’s important to seek medical help immediately. Your doctor will be able to help you discover the cause and find appropriate treatment.
Hearing Loud and Clear
Sound is an essential part of how you communicate and engage with the world around you. Unfortunately, Americans of all ages experience hearing loss. Although hearing loss can start at an early age, most people don’t experience a significant loss of hearing until they get older. Hearing loss can occur from a blockage in your ear or internal sensorineural damage.
If you notice that you’re having trouble hearing normal sounds, it’s important to get your hearing checked. Most forms of hearing loss can be successfully treated so you can retain the rest of your hearing and stay connected to the world around you. Caring for your hearing is important for both your mental and physical well-being.