There are far too many misunderstandings around hearing loss. It’s more than just an issue with your ears, but how your brain can receive sound. When hearing loss goes ignored and untreated it can all too quickly evolve into a host of dangerous side effects such as strains on relationships, loss of earnings at work, depression, cognitive decline, and even dementia. For far too long the importance of treating hearing loss has been underestimated. Here are some common myths about hearing loss and some facts to help you find the best solution for hearing issues for you and the people you love.
MYTH: Hearing loss only affects older people.
One of the most common causes of hearing loss is age-related. Technically known as presbycusis, one in three people over 65 suffer from hearing loss while half of all over 75 deal with the condition. It’s common for your ears to change as we age causing hearing loss but there are many causes of hearing loss that can occur at any age. A recent study indicates that 1 in 5 teenagers exhibit at least a slight hearing loss- a 30% increase in a teen hearing loss since the early 1990s. This may be due to headphone and earbud use, which if played loud enough can damage hearing. Hearing loss can occur to anyone at any time due to a wide range of causes including exposure to dangerous levels of noise, impact to the head, certain chemicals, and infection. It is important to look out for signs of hearing loss and have your doctor check you regularly for hearing loss.
MYTH: Hearing aids are an instant fix.
On average people wait 7 to 10 years to treat a hearing loss from the time they suspect it’s an issue. Over this time the brain may forget exactly how to process lost sounds. Hearing aids are amazing digital devices that can be programmed, based on your hearing exam to only amplify the sounds you need while allowing the rest to be picked by your remaining hearing. This technology continues to make leaps in bounds, improving sound quality and enhancing speech even in noise. However, hearing aids aren’t like glasses. When you put on a properly prescribed pair of glasses, they correct your vision instantly. It can take time for your brain to become reaccustomed to hearing sounds it may not have heard in a decade. Hearing aids may be difficult to get used to—but give them a chance! Start slow and work up over two weeks to wearing them every day. With patience, you will find that you’ll be more aware of your surroundings and able to keep up with conversations with loved ones yet again.
MYTH: Talking louder can help deaf people to hear you.
It’s a common misconception to believe that to communicate with people with hearing loss you need to yell. Yelling actually can distort sound and your lips. Many people who live with hearing loss come to unconsciously rely on lip-reading to supplement what they can’t hear. When you shout the shape of your mouth is different, further confusing hearing-impaired people. The ideal communication style would be to speak with a gated cadence, enunciating each word and maintaining eye contact. This allows the listener to stay engaged and connected. Everyone handles hearing loss a little differently, so ask the people in your life with hearing loss, what works best for them.
MYTH: Hearing loss can be reversed with surgery or medicine.
Some hearing loss is conductive, meaning that there is some sort of blockage in the ear canal causing the loss. This can occur due to an infection, an impaction of wax, or a foreign object. When the blockage is cleared hearing in most cases will go back to normal. However, the more common type of hearing loss making up 90% of cases is sensorineural and occurs when the tiny cells of the inner ear become damaged.
While it can be treated with hearing loss, there is currently no medical procedure to reverse sensorineural hearing loss. This makes it all the more crucial to protect your hearing and prevent hearing loss in the first place. Wear hearing protection when exposed to loud noise and make sure your screen regularly for hearing loss. Schedule your next hearing exam with us today!