Nearing 1 in 5 people have some degree of impaired hearing. Impacting nearly 48 million people, hearing loss is one of the most pervasive chronic health conditions that people experience today. Though it is common, hearing loss remains widely undertreated. In fact, the National Institute on Deafness and Other Communication Disorders (NIDCD) estimates that only one third of people with hearing loss receive treatment.
Contributing to the significant delay in treatment are the various misconceptions people have about hearing loss. Addressing these misconceptions can expand knowledge about this permanent condition that is only expected to impact more people exponentially; and the urgency of seeking treatment!
Fiction: Hearing loss is caused by aging and only impacts older adults.
Fact: There are various factors (in addition to aging) that can cause hearing loss including environmental exposure to loud noise, head/neck injuries, and existing medical conditions. These factors can impact people of all ages! In fact, the World Health Organization estimates that 1.1 billion children and young adults are currently at increased risk of developing hearing loss due to loud noise exposure. One time or consistent exposure to loud noise is one of the most common causes of hearing loss. This exposure can happen through the workplace, social engagement, listening to audio on personal devices etc. So it is important to know that although aging is a significant indicator of hearing loss, people of all ages have impaired hearing.
Fiction: Hearing loss is not a serious condition and can be treated later.
Fact: It is common for people to assume that because they can hear, that the changes they are experiencing are not serious enough to seek medical attention. But because hearing loss happens gradually, people may not be fully aware of how their hearing is in fact declining. This could mean an inability to hear faint sounds, other people talking in a different room, needing to increase the volume on the television etc. Over time, impairment can worsen which intensifies symptoms. This could lead to more serious symptoms like difficulty participating in a conversation, trouble hearing in environments with background noise, experiencing fatigue after engaging with others, sounds are muffled etc. It is important to intervene as early as possible to prevent exacerbating symptoms.
Fiction: Hearing loss is curable.
Fact: Hearing loss is a permanent medical condition. Typically, the hair cells in the inner ear are damaged which causes hearing loss. These hair cells help translate soundwaves into electrical signals that are then sent to the brain. The brain processes these signals and assigns meaning to them which allows us to understand what we hear. Unlike other types of cells, these hair cells do not regenerate which means when they are damaged, it is irreparable. Fortunately, there are effective ways to treat hearing loss. The most common treatment is hearing aids which transform hearing health.
Fiction: Talking louder solves the problem.
Fact: Another common misconception about hearing loss is that people can simply talk louder so that others can hear clearly. This actually can worsen sound quality and make it more difficult to hear. People experience hearing loss differently which means that they can have challenges with specific sounds or pitches. Projecting one’s voice or increasing the volume on devices can further obscure sound and contribute to it being muffled. Strategies to maximize hearing depends on the specifics of one’s hearing loss: the degree of impairment, what hearing capacity is in each ear, type of hearing loss etc.
Fiction: Hearing aids are bulky and outdated.
Fact: Similar to most electronic devices today, hearing aids have benefitted from advancing technology. They are savvier and more capable than ever before. A common misconception about hearing aids is that they are bulky, outdated, and noticeable devices. But today’s hearing aids offer countless options – from style, to color, adn features. There is a wide range of options that feature sleek designs and a range of technologies that allow the device to be easily integrated into daily life.
Hearing aids feature bluetooth technology, voice recognition capabilities, background noise and feedback control, rechargeable batteries etc. Our team will work with you to provide effective recommendations that meet both your hearing needs and lifestyle preferences. We look forward to hearing from you – contact us today to schedule an appointment!