A diagnosis of hearing loss can come as quite a shock. With roughly one in six Americans living with hearing loss, it is by no means uncommon, yet many people struggle to come to terms with this reality. When hearing loss begins, it might be a mild difficulty in conversation or a loss of ability to hear certain sounds.
However, if hearing loss advances, it can be debilitating in many ways, limiting independence and mobility. The good news is that the sooner you are able to acknowledge the reality of hearing loss, the sooner you will be able to seek solutions.
Acknowledgment requires you to deal with the facts and to disabuse yourself of dangerous fictions you might believe related to hearing loss. Let’s take a moment to consider the reality of hearing loss with an aim to set the record straight.
The Reality of Hearing Loss
Although many people would rather not accept this reality, most forms of hearing loss cannot be cured. When the tiny hairlike organelles of the inner ear called stereocilia are bent, broken, or otherwise damaged, they will not regrow on their own.
Researchers are currently working with drug, genetic, and stem-cell therapies to see if it will be possible to restore these lost hair cells, but the medical technology does not yet exist. With this reality in mind, it is crucial to think in terms of treatment rather than a cure. Many people have a tendency to stick their heads in the sand when it comes to hearing loss. Rather than admitting that they have the condition—and that the condition is most likely permanent—they remain in denial to themselves or others. By refusing to acknowledge hearing loss, it can make things much worse.
Not only can hearing ability further degenerate, but hearing loss is also correlated with a wide range of health issues, ranging from the physical to the mental and cognitive. Untreated hearing loss is associated with higher rates of accidents and falls, depression, and anxiety, and even cognitive decline and dementia. With these associated health conditions in mind, it is essential to look directly at hearing loss for what it is, admitting that it is unlikely to go away on its own.
The Reality of Treatment
Although these realities of hearing loss must be acknowledged, there is a parallel reality of treatment, as well. Those who have hearing loss need to begin with a thorough diagnosis of the condition. No two cases of hearing loss are exactly the same, so a hearing test is the first step toward treatment.
In the test, we will play a series of tones ranging in pitch and volume. All you need to do is gesture when you hear a sound, and the examiner will register that gesture. With this information in hand, the test administrator will be able to show which sounds you can hear and which sounds you can’t. This test results in a graph called an audiogram that shows how loud a sound needs to be in order for you to hear it.
With this information in hand, your hearing health professional can point you toward the right models of hearing aids that can help you. The latest models are uniquely designed to identify the sound of a voice in a room and to reduce background sound. Many of them are equipped with Bluetooth connectivity, making it possible not only to control the levels and profiles of sound from a smartphone app but also to stream phone notifications and music to the devices, as well.
Your beliefs about hearing aids might be based on older models from the past, but the reality of hearing treatment is much brighter than ever before! If you have been living in the shadows of unrealistic beliefs about hearing loss or hearing treatment, now is the time to set the record straight. Denying the problem or relying on false mythology will not enable you to get the help you need.
Now that you know the facts about hearing loss and hearing treatment, what’s holding you back from getting a hearing test? This test is the first step toward durable solutions, so don’t delay making an appointment!