Hearing loss is a common problem affecting millions of people of all ages. However, as we get older, our chance of experiencing hear loss increases. Hearing loss affects approximately one-third of people aged 65 to 74 and almost half of individuals aged 75 and over.
Many cases of hearing loss are noise-induced, age-related, or the result of illness or injury. While a child may be born with a hearing impairment, it’s rare. Noise-induced hearing loss means the problem is the result of exposure to loud noise. One exposure is enough to cause a problem if the noise is loud enough. Yet most cases of noise-induced hearing are from repeated exposure to loud noise.
Since you’re trying to decide whether to seek treatment for hearing loss, it’s helpful to know the signs of a hearing problem and the consequences of ignoring hearing loss.
Signs of Hearing Loss
For adults, it’s time for a hearing evaluation if you’re experiencing any of these symptoms.
- People seem to be mumbling
- You have trouble hearing phone conversations or children’s voices
- Conversations are difficult in places with background noise like busy restaurants
- You frequently ask people to repeat themselves
- You’re turning the television volume up higher than you used to
- Your loved ones complain your television volume is too high
Perhaps it’s your child’s hearing you’re worried about. As an audiologist, I urge you to schedule a hearing assessment to address concerns about your child’s hearing. Early treatment can make a big difference in a child’s quality of life. Children who have trouble hearing may experience any of these symptoms.
- Loud noises don’t startle your baby
- Not turning toward the source of a sound by 6 months old
- Simple first words like “hi” or “da-da” haven’t appeared by 12 months old
- No response when you call your toddler’s name
- Your child’s speech is difficult to understand
- Your child can’t follow simple instructions
- No speech in a toddler or older child
What Can Happen When Hearing Loss Isn’t Treated
Unfortunately, many adults who have trouble hearing don’t seek treatment. It’s unfortunate because as Doctors of Audiology we can help them improve their quality of life.
The undesirable consequences of untreated hearing loss are well established. To make informed decisions about your hearing health, it’s important you’re aware of the possible effects of not treating your hearing problem.
Social isolation is commonplace among people with untreated hearing loss. As it becomes more challenging to communicate in social situations, someone who has trouble hearing often avoids social gatherings.
Also, the loved ones of a person with hearing loss reduce their interactions with the affected person due to their frustration with communication issues. The good news is research shows using a hearing aid is the way to defeat hearing-related social isolation.
Untreated hearing loss is strongly associated with cognitive problems like dementia. Here’s some more good news. There’s not a connection between cognitive decline and treated hearing loss. Not treating your hearing loss also raises your risk of other problems like anxiety, depression, and falls.
Untreated children usually struggle with acquiring language and developing social skills. Speech delays and poor academic performance are typical outcomes for children with untreated hearing loss.
Early treatment for young children gives them the best chance of reaching their potential. In certain circumstances, we can treat a young child’s hearing loss with medicine or surgery.
What to Do If You Suspect Hearing Loss
Hearing issues should always be addressed quickly. Getting a hearing assessment is the first step. We can use the results to create a personalized treatment plan to get you hearing better.
By now, I hope I’ve convinced you that a wait-and-see approach is never the right strategy for dealing with hearing loss. Taking a wait-and-see approach generally results in your hearing loss getting worse. Getting prompt treatment is the best way to avoid the negative outcomes linked to not dealing with a hearing problem.
Sometimes, unfounded fears keep people from making an appointment to see an audiologist. At our hearing and balance center, some patients have said they put off getting their hearing checked because they thought the hearing test would be painful. Nothing could be further from the truth. A hearing assessment doesn’t hurt, and it’s not invasive.
Another common fear among our patients is using a hearing aid will damage their reputation in the community. Often, our patients fear a hearing aid will make them look “old” or unattractive. Then they go on to describe the bulky hearing aid their grandfather had.
The reality is today’s hearing aids are tiny and hardly noticeable. Most people won’t even realize you’re using a hearing device.
At SLENT Hearing & Balance Center, our caring professionals can help you or your child improve your hearing health. Contact us to schedule an appointment.