The first signs of hearing loss can come at any time, though most cases of age-related hearing loss usually the first start appearing in a person’s 40s or 50s. Age-related hearing loss is also known as presbycusis, occurs when damage occurs to the cells of the inner ear which deliver sound to the brain- due to changes in the ear as we age. By the time people reach 65 years, one in three will have hearing loss. By 75, half will live with the condition and for those who live to be 100, there is a 100% chance hearing loss will be present. It often starts with issues trying to hear in noisy spaces through multiple conversations and background noise or can manifest as issues hearing over the phone or TV. Still, you can hear in most situations, so is it really important to seek treatment? To protect your mental, physical, and emotional health the answer is yes.
Should You Wait to Get Hearing Aids?
While age-related hearing loss is permanent it can be treated with hearing aids. These amazing digital microcomputers can be programmed based on your hearing exam to only amplify the sounds you need to hear, creating a more natural listening experience. Still, many people put off treating hearing loss because of the stigma and the cost of hearing aids. Many people are reluctant to treat, due to the outdated belief that hearing aids will make them seem old to others. The truth is that being confused and disconnected during conversation because you can’t hear can make you seem out of the loop!
Others fear the cost of hearing aids, however, it’s important to understand that despite the initial cost they will pay off tenfold. Here are just a few reasons to treat your hearing as soon as possible.
Hearing Loss and Your Brain
While we collect sound with our ears, it is our brain that hears and processes sound. When sound can’t reach the brain, over years, parts of our brain that process sound have no use and are repurposed for other functions. In some cases, this auditory deprivation can cause cells to die, contributing to brain atrophy. You may imagine that this is an issue for those with profound hearing loss, however, a 2019 study showed that even a mild hearing loss can cause people on average to score lower on cognitive tests than those with normal hearing by 30%! With moderate or severe hearing loss, the risk was 42 and 52 percent higher. The longer you go without treating a hearing loss the greater the risk of developing dementia earlier or at all. Similarly, the risk goes up with the severity of the loss. A mild case doubles the risk while a moderate loss triples the risk, and a severe risk increases the risk fivefold.
Hearing Loss and Your Relationships
The cornerstone of any healthy relationship is clear communication. When hearing loss begins you may not even know it. It can start and progress so gradually it’s common to not even know it’s happening. However, it’s already eroding the quality of your relationships. You may find that your feel further from old friends and extended family members. At home, miscommunications can build up over years, creating resentment where there used to be love and support. It’s common for romantic relationships to suffer paving the way for chronic depression, anxiety, and loneliness. Treating hearing loss when at the first sign of a loss can keep you connecting to the people in your life and avoid potential rifts.
Hearing Loss and Your Job
While hearing aids are considered expensive high-end machines that help us hear, what is much more costly is the price of ignoring hearing loss. This is due to the impact that hearing loss commonly has on earnings and professional success. We don’t realize how much success at work often relies on clear communication. When hearing loss causes you to make common mistakes due to miscommunications, over time co-workers and employers will come to rely on you less. The Better Hearing Institute reports that untreated hearing loss potentially has an annual loss of 30,000 over those with normal hearing. However, they report that those who treat their hearing loss with hearing aids avoid this risk significantly.
Investing in hearing aids is investing in your future. If you suspect you have a hearing loss, don’t delay having your hearing checked. Schedule an appointment today.