Roughly 40 million Americans have hearing loss. Sadly, even those who are aware that they can’t hear well avoid seeking treatment. On average, people wait 5 to 7 years before investing in their hearing health! During this time, it’s not only their hearing that suffers, but their physical, mental, and emotional health as well.
Who Has Hearing Loss?
You might think that only seniors suffer from hearing loss, but the truth is that people of all ages struggle to hear. Seniors often have age related hearing loss, or presbycusis, but younger people also lose their hearing. Adults who work in noisy jobs like law enforcement, construction, or manufacturing often have hearing loss, and even children and teens have noise induced hearing loss from unsafe listening practices, and playing their music for far too long and far too loud.
You might think that nothing happens when you ignore your hearing loss. However, when you choose to live with untreated hearing loss, you’re missing out on a world of sounds. You’ll struggle to follow conversations, and might have a hard time hearing the voices of your loved ones. You won’t hear the birds chirping outside, and you won’t experience the joy of hearing your favorite song in it’s rich, full sound. When you finally make the decision to treat your hearing loss, you’ll be amazed to hear clearly for the first time in years, but will regret how much time you spent missing out on all the sounds around you.
Anyone who’s living with hearing loss knows it can be an extremely isolating experience. When you’re not able to hear clearly, and have to ask people to repeat themselves over and over again, you might find yourself withdrawing from social situations, and choosing to stay home rather than facing the embarrassment of mishearing someone, or answering a question inappropriately. Even in the quiet of your own home you have trouble talking on the phone, and when people come to visit you, you strain to hear what’s been said. These feelings of isolation get worse along with your hearing loss, and those with untreated hearing loss have higher rates of anxiety and loneliness, as well as depression.
If you’ve been living with untreated hearing loss, your cognitive health will also suffer. You’ll face confusion, and have difficulty focusing on tasks. You’ll find yourself easily distracted, and your mind will wander. Decision making will become increasingly difficult, and you’ll notice more rapid cognitive decline. Not only that, but those with untreated hearing loss have far higher rates of dementia and Alzheimer’s Disease.
Struggling to Adjust
The longer you wait before treating your hearing loss, the harder it will be to adjust to your new devices, and the more sounds will be irrevocably lost. When the cells in your inner ear are damaged, either from noise exposure or from aging, they’re not able to pick up on all the sounds in your environment, and can’t send a complete picture to your brain. Cells in the brain normally used to interpret those sounds go unused, and after a while they will become damaged or die, meaning that if you wait years to treat your hearing, some sounds will never come back.
Your brain is an amazing organ, and is able to do incredible things. It can adapt to any situation, and do the best it can to help you function. When you have untreated hearing loss, your brain will adjust to not being able to hear, and when you do treat your hearing loss, it will take time to re-train your brain to hear all the sounds you’ve been missing for years. The sooner you treat your hearing loss, the easier it will be for your brain to adjust, and you’ll experience far less damage to the auditory centers of the brain.
Treating Hearing Loss
If you’ve been struggling to hear, it’s time to invest in your health and treat your hearing loss. Studies show that wearing hearing aids will help you be more active, maintain close friendships, be less likely to suffer from depression, and enjoy the benefits of a healthy life.