With approximately 37.5 million adults within the U.S. alone reported to have hearing loss, that’s roughly one out of every five people we interact with every day. When opened to the world’s population, that number jumps significantly to nearly 750 million adults.
Though it’s true that hearing decreases more as people age, over half a billion of them are under the age of 65. A staggering 1,100,000,000 of these are young people who are vulnerable to hearing loss. Between music or work environments that are excessively loud, many are subjected to dangerous noise levels on a regular basis.
The issue of hearing loss is very serious. In fact, it’s considered a major issue affecting the public’s health. Judging by the number of people we see wearing glasses, the stigma surrounding hearing aids is much stronger. If those who need hearing aids were as unconcerned about them as the number of people wearing glasses, contacts, or having corrective vision surgery, there would be a lot more people using these tiny, life changing devices.
Sadly, less than twenty percent of the population who lives with hearing loss seeks treatment for their condition. Thanks to a multitude of misconceptions, many people are uncomfortable with the thought of using a hearing device or lack the knowledge to make an educated decision about their options.
Often, hearing loss comes on gradually, slowly enough that it might not even be noticed at first. People grow used to diminished hearing and until someone points out that they are asking those around them to repeat themselves a lot, they may actually have no idea they’re losing the ability to hear.
As time goes on, it becomes natural to adapt to this loss. Televisions and radios get turned up louder, they may sit closer to the speaker or stage at an event, sometimes people even learn to read lips in order to follow conversations. But this isn’t the end of the adaptation. Things can go downhill from here and have a more serious affect on the overall health of a person with hearing loss.
In addition to creating frustration for themselves as well as those around them, they might suffer from:
- Embarrassment due to their hearing loss
- Sadness or depression at their inability to enjoy the sounds around them
- Anxiety about their relationships or their job because they are not able to perform to their full potential
- Loss if independence
- Loss of self confidence
- Lack of desire to interact with others, unwilling to leave the comfort and safety of their home
- Social isolation or feelings of being excluded from activities
- Safety concerns (emergency alerts- fire, weather, natural disaster- infants or small children crying, fall risks, horns or emergency vehicles, someone shouting, even muggings and burglaries)
- Dementia is 5 times more likely to develop in people living with hearing loss
- The chances of cognitive decline increase
The stigma surrounding hearing aids has been brushed aside. Everyone from the young to the elderly are now using ear-based devices such as ear buds for music, audiobooks, or podcast listening. FitBit, Apple, or Android devices have new and improved gadgets that attach to headbands, neckbands, and in the ear to make portable communication easier.
With today’s technology, hearing aids are so tiny and discreet that no one will be the wiser that you’re not simply utilizing one of these gadgets to keep up with the local news or your favorite music. And since these devices are worn by people of all ages, they are more apt to consider it cool to wear hearing devices as well.
The benefits of seeking treatment for hearing loss far outweigh the negative effects. By correcting hearing loss, the risk of cognitive decline is minimized according to a study conducted by the University of Exeter and King’s College London.
It’s also less likely that potential income loss will occur. The Better Hearing Institute has found that if left untreated, hearing loss could lead to an income loss of up to $30,000, though this number fluctuates depending on the degree of loss the person experiences.
Overall health improves when hearing loss is corrected by the use of hearing aids. Personal relationships improve, friendships strengthen, and feelings of loneliness are overcome by interaction with those around you.
Special events such a grandchild’s recital or a friend’s party are once again enjoyable. Paranoia and feelings of being left out are beaten out by invitations to events and get togethers where you can once again take part in jokes and conversations going on around you.
Annoying symptoms of tinnitus or ringing in the ears can be a thing of the past. A good working relationship with a hearing health professional can ease a lot of the burden and worry associated with hearing loss.
They can talk through your options and help you make an educated decision based on your needs and finances. You can also spend time with them learning to adjust and care for your device, such as how to clean or change the batteries. And they are always happy to take your calls and even talk you through these processes until you grow more comfortable with them.
If you or someone you love is living with decreased hearing, check with your hearing health professional today to see what options are available to help you enjoy hearing the sounds going on around you.