Have you been putting off getting your hearing evaluation even though you suspect you’re not hearing as well as you once did? Taking the first step in improving your hearing health – and your overall well-being.
Here are ten good reasons why it’s time for you to get a hearing test:
1. There is still time to Treat and Manage Hearing Loss
Even if the test confirms, you’ve already lost some hearing that doesn’t mean you’re doomed to lose all of it. In some cases, an audiologist may be able to recommend lifestyle changes to protect the hearing you still have. Are you working at a job that exposes you to excessive decibel levels? Perhaps some new hearing protection is in order. Is the cause of your hearing loss a reversible condition? Depending on the hearing loss, your doctor or audiologist may have a treatment plan to compensate for the hearing you’ve lost, or at least prevent further damage from occurring.
2. Your Hearing Loss affects everyone around you
Your hearing loss is difficult for your family, friends, and co-workers to deal with, too. In fact, it is often the people we are closest to who first “diagnose” the condition, even before the person with the problem. Having to repeat themselves constantly, shouting during their conversations with you, and blasting the television wears on everyone’s nerves. If those you know and love are suggesting it’s time you do something about your hearing, take them seriously.
3. Hearing well improves Relationships
Spouses and significant others frequently experience frustration, annoyance, and hurt feelings toward those with untreated hearing loss. Often due to misunderstanding the hearing disorder, the person with the hearing loss is blamed. They may think you are ignoring them or just don’t care enough about what they’re saying to pay attention. When hearing loss comes across as distraction or disinterest romantic relationships suffer.
4. Social alienation may lead to Depression
Hearing loss has been linked to the development of depression due to the isolation it breeds. When you can’t hear well it is hard to enjoy social events, as the effort required to hear and understand speech over loud music and crowds quickly overwhelming. Soon you start to decline invitations and avoid being around other people. Eventually, you may avoid leaving the house entirely. The greater your isolation, the easier it is for depression to take hold.
5. Older People with untreated Hearing Loss are at Greater Risk of Falling
Johns Hopkins researchers identified an increased risk of falling due to hearing loss in a landmark 2012 study. Even those with relatively mild hearing loss (25 decibels) were nearly three times as likely to experience falls. The study speculates the cognitive overload of straining to hear affects the brain’s ability to maintain proper gait and balance. Falls can cause serious injuries, require lengthy hospitalizations, and put your life at risk, especially if you are older and live alone.
6. Hearing Loss may be an Early Warning Sign of Diabetes
Multiple research studies have indicated people with diabetes are approximately twice as likely to lose their hearing as those without the disease. Hearing loss can be an early warning sign of diabetes or other co-morbidities (see below). Any visit to an audiologist that results in a diagnosis of hearing loss should be followed up by a call to your regular physician. Make sure your doctor gets a copy of your audiogram and find out if general health tests are recommended. Conversely, if you already know you have diabetes you should definitely get your hearing tested, as you are at a higher risk of losing it over time.
7. Untreated Hearing Loss and Dementia have been linked
Although the exact cause-and-effect remains unknown, researchers have concluded seniors with hearing loss are more likely to develop dementia than their normal hearing peers. One possible cause is the tendency for the hearing impaired to withdraw from the social contact necessary to cognitive health, as mentioned previously. Another is cognitive overload — a brain overtaxed by straining to hear and understand begins to falter over time. Or it may be due to a failure of an area of the brain responsible for both processing language and cognition in general. Whatever the common denominator, the fact there is a connection is certainly reason for concern.
8. Hearing Loss may be a Complication of Cardiovascular Disease
Cardiovascular disease can lead to heart attacks or strokes, and often goes undetected until one of these catastrophic health events occurs. The flow of blood through the body is impeded in those with cardiovascular issues. Since the hair cells vital to hearing are delicate, they are often the first cells “killed” by reduced blood flow, leading to hearing loss. If your test indicates a hearing loss, particularly in the lower frequencies, you should make a follow-up appointment with your physician to have your general cardiovascular health checked right away.
9. It’s Harder to get a Job or Advance in a Career when you can’t Hear
It’s difficult enough to find a job these days without the extra burden of struggling to hear. In fact, only 48 percent of US citizens between the ages of 18-64 who have a hearing impairment are employed in the public or private sectors. Even if you are employed once hearing loss develops it can affect your ability to retain your position or climb the corporate ladder. Trying to work around hearing loss can cause you to miss important directions or misunderstand/misspeak during meetings, giving bosses and coworkers the wrong impression about your abilities.
10. Advanced Options for Treating Hearing Loss are Available
Hearing aid technology has advanced significantly in the past decade alone. Hearing aids are available in custom models so tiny they disappear into your ear canal, yet so powerful they can connect wirelessly to all manner of electronic devices. Or there are receiver-in-canal models that are comfortable, discreet, and able to improve your understanding of speech-in-noise to such a degree, you may hear even better than people with normal hearing in challenging environments, such as cocktail parties or restaurants. The first step is to get that hearing test, determine the kind of hearing loss you have, and then learn more about your treatment options. It’s the right thing to do for your career, your social life, and your health.