Advocate for your hearing health

The beginning of January usually means one thing: New Year’s resolutions. Commonly, these resolutions include a variety of health goals such as working out routinely, dieting, quitting a bad habit, drinking more water, etc. Our physical and mental health seem to be at the forefront of our minds around this time of year. If we aspire to be the healthiest versions of ourselves, it is essential that we also prioritize our hearing health.

Statistics:

According to the CDC’s National Center for Health Statistics, more than 37 million individuals aged 18 and over report some trouble hearing. About 28.8 million U.S. adults could benefit from using hearing aids. Of the 26.7 million people over age 50 with a hearing impairment, only one in seven (14%), use a hearing aid. Experts say that overall, people struggle with hearing loss for an average of 10 years before seeking treatment. Whether it be due to the stigma around it, the cost, or oftentimes denial, there are many factors that play into why people avoid getting their ears checked; however, more and more studies are showing the consequences associated with untreated hearing loss.  The bottom line is, “If you are postponing treatment or refusing to acknowledge your hearing loss altogether, you are placing both your physical and mental health at risk,” (Soundrelief.com).

Consequences:

Refusing to get your hearing checked out can lead to isolation due to avoidance or withdrawal from social situations. As hearing loss gets worse and worse, the temptation to stay home with the TV turned all the way up sounds much more enticing than socializing in a room full of people and not being able to follow along in conversation. Pretty soon, tasks that you once enjoyed such as attending plays, going out to eat, and large gatherings become daunting and frustrating.

Trouble hearing or understanding isn’t the only result of untreated hearing loss. Since the ear plays a role in balance, mild hearing loss can triple the risk of falling. Some studies have even linked mild hearing loss to a doubling of dementia risk, and moderate hearing loss can triple it.

Take action:

Since the majority of hearing loss is gradual over time, it might not be immediately noticeable. According to the Mayo Clinic, here are some signs that you might have some degree of hearing loss:

  • Muffling of speech and other sounds
  • Difficulty understanding words, especially against background noise or in a crowd
  • Trouble hearing consonants
  • Frequently asking others to speak more slowly, clearly, or loudly
  • Needing to turn up the volume of the TV or radio
  • Withdrawal from conversations
  • Avoidance of some social settings

If you suspect you might be struggling with hearing loss, the sooner you take action, the better. Having your ears regularly tested is the most effective way to be proactive in your hearing health. The stigma around hearing loss has caused people to be embarrassed of needing hearing aids as the devices have become associated with looking older, weaker, and less capable. The more people avoid using hearing aids, the more the stigma is perpetuated. Research has shown that wearing hearing aids reduce loneliness, delay dementia, lower the risk of falls, reduce the impact of anxiety and depression, and overall improve quality of life (Healthyhearing.com).

This new year, protect your ears, get your hearing tested, and advocate for your own hearing health and the hearing health of others. Here’s to a happy and healthy 2022!



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