February 26, 2024

Acknowledging the Reality of Hearing Loss

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There are various misconceptions about hearing loss that can make it challenging to acknowledge one’s experience. People often think that hearing loss only impacts older adults, is not a serious health issue, and one that can be easily fixed by just speaking louder. These common ideas about hearing loss can cause you to delay accepting the reality that you may be experiencing impaired hearing.

Hearing loss is actually a common chronic health issue that nearly 1 in 8 people navigate. People of all ages are impacted by this medical condition which cannot be reversed. Fortunately, there are effective ways that hearing loss is treated so it is imperative to identify and address symptoms that you recognize.

Hearing Loss Symptoms

There are various factors that can contribute to the development of hearing loss including:

  • Existing medical conditions: such as cardiovascular disease, hypertension, diabetes, stroke, and obesity can increase the risk of impaired hearing.
  • Genetic history: one’s family history of hearing loss is important because people can inherit specific genes that can affect the auditory system.
  • Environmental exposure to loud noise: which we can absorb at concerts, job sites, arenas etc. can damage the hair cells in the inner ear which help the brain process sound.

These factors, often gradually, restrict the sound that a person can absorb and process; reducing one’s ability to hear effectively. This creates various symptoms including:

  • Tinnitus which refers to a buzzing, ringing, or clicking like noise in one or both ears
  • Difficulty following entire conversations as sounds are muffled
  • Inability to distinguish individual words
  • Better hearing in one ear
  • Frequently asking others to repeat themselves, speak louder, and/or slower
  • Struggling to hear in environments with background noise
  • Regularly increasing the volume on electronic devices (TV, phone, speaker etc.)

These symptoms can be experienced mildly to severely, depending on the degree of hearing loss. This can disrupt and significantly impact your capacity to manage daily activities and responsibilities.

Impact of Hearing Loss

Hearing loss is a chronic medical condition that if left untreated, can worsen and have major effects including:

  • Straining Communication: we engage in conversations daily and struggling to hear during them can lead to miscommunication, missing information, and an overall unpleasant experience for everyone involved. Conversations become difficult and exhausting as you overextend yourself in trying to hear.
  • Social Withdrawal: engaging with others can start to feel like more work than pleasure which can cause you to avoid social gatherings, events, and activities. This means spending less time with family and friends as well as missing out on important moments. Social withdrawal can create distance and tension in relationships and deepen isolation.
  • Decline of Overall Health: strained communication and social withdrawal can take a toll on your mental and emotional health. It can contribute to feelings of depression, anxiety, stress, and loneliness. Additionally, hearing loss can impact physical health because it puts you at a higher risk of personal injury as well as cognitive decline.

These multifaceted effects of hearing loss can be really challenging to navigate. It is critical to be aware and proactive about your hearing health because early detection and intervention can support your transition to a healthier life.

Seeking Treatment

The most common treatment for hearing loss is hearing aids, which are small electronic devices that are worn in or behind the ear. Hearing aids have three main components: a microphone, amplifier, and speaker which are designed to absorb, strengthen, and process sound. This results in an increased ability to hear which can drastically improve your quality of life by enhancing communication, boosting confidence, and allowing you to fully participate in activities. Being able to comfortably navigate environments and hear more thoroughly supports your health and general wellness!

The first step in seeking treatment is to schedule an appointment with a hearing healthcare specialist to have your hearing examined. Hearing tests are a noninvasive and relatively quick way to measure your hearing ability in both ears, establish any impairment, the degree, and specific type of hearing loss you may be experiencing. Contact us today to schedule an appointment for a hearing test and consultation.

Dr. Teague earned his Bachelor of Science Degree in Hearing, Speech and Language from Ohio University and his Doctoral Degree in Audiology from The University of Louisville. He is an active member of the American Academy of Audiology and the Ohio Board of Audiology.

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