February 26, 2024

Difficulties with Communication Could Signal a Hearing Loss

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Hearing loss is an ailment that develops over time so you don’t realize how bad it has become. Over time, you may not be able to hear people talking around you clearly. They may seem to be speaking too quietly or you may not be able to make out certain words and phrases. Many people experience trouble working out exactly who’s speaking to you in a noisy room. The effort of trying to understand may be making you feel tired, frustrated, lonely, or depressed. If you have any of these problems then there is a very good chance you are suffering from hearing loss.

The Hard Facts of Hearing Loss

In the U.S., 15 percent of adults over the age of 18, or 48 million people, report having trouble hearing. Of adults aged 65-74, a quarter have a disabling hearing loss, and 50 percent of adults over the age of 75 have a disabling hearing loss. While hearing aids have been proven to help in most cases of hearing loss, of the adults aged 20-69 who could benefit from wearing hearing aids, only 16 percent have ever tried them. Sadly, when someone suspects they have hearing loss, on average, it takes people ten years to seek treatment.

Untreated Hearing Loss

Hearing loss is an invisible condition. Although it is increasingly prevalent with age, hearing loss is often ignored during the diagnosis and treatment of cognitive and memory disorders in elderly patients. Untreated hearing loss is associated with lower quality of life, depression, social isolation, unemployment, and lower earnings at work, higher medical bills for other health issues, high blood pressure, and even a higher risk of dangerous trips and falls. When you have hearing loss your brain has to struggle to interpret what is being said and other parts of your brain’s functions are drawn away from other important cognitive tasks to compensate. The sooner you treat a hearing loss the faster your brain can stop compensating, relearn to hear and ultimately recover.

When You Suspect You Have Hearing Loss

The start of an age-related hearing problem can be subtle. It’s important to pay attention to those first signs so you can act before the problem can start to seriously impact your life. Common signs of hearing loss include:

  • Children's voices sound muffled or unclear. When aging takes a toll on your cochlea, the inner ear organ that helps you hear, the cells that detect high-pitched sounds are usually the first to fail. This can make it harder to understand anyone with a high-pitched voice.
  • You can't follow the conversation in noisy places. Age-related changes in how the brain processes sound can also make it harder to ignore background noise.
  • You're exhausted after social events. When you can’t hear all the sounds of speech, your brain has to fill in the gaps to make sense of what others are saying. That takes a great deal of focus, especially when there’s more than one person speaking at a time. All this effort may leave you tired after social events.
  • You're watching people's lips instead of making eye contact.
  • Your TV volume keeps getting higher. If others in your house complain that the TV is too loud, it’s time to get your hearing checked.

Treatments for Hearing Loss

There are varied degrees in which a person’s hearing loss can manifest. There are those who experience hearing loss only when they hear soft and moderate sounds. In this case, medical interventions can still be made to correct the problem. Hearing aids and devices such as cochlear implants may be used. They may also be taught more complicated strategies in communication so they can easily understand the speaker. Whether you use hearing aids, a cochlear implant or you simply have mild, untreated hearing loss, learning new communication strategies is a great idea.

Hearing Consultants

If any of these symptoms sound familiar contact us at Hearing Consultants. We can schedule you a hearing test and determine your hearing abilities. If a hearing loss is detected, we can help you find the best hearing aids for your lifestyle. Contact us today – you have nothing to lose and so much to gain!

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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