Hearing Loss Among the US Population
Hearing loss impacts far more people than you may think. Overall across the US population, 13% of people suffer from it. This percentage increases with age. Out of every 1,000 babies born, almost three will be born with congenital hearing loss. Over 6% of those aged 18-44 are impacted. 13.6% of people aged 45-64 live with it. And the ratios increase steadily from there with just below 27% of all those aged 65-74 effected and an incredible half of all people aged 75 and older. And of course as our population ages, this percentage will continue to increase over the coming decades. Not to mention that dialing hearing loss not only wreaks havoc upon those directly feeling it, but all those that they have to interact with. It is not uncommon to minimize its effect and try to just live with it. In fact it is estimated that two-thirds of all those who suffer from it do not seek treatment. But this is a grave mistake as hearing loss directly burdens mental health. Intervening as soon as possible to reverse hearing loss has immediate advantages to your overall health, especially mental health.
Maintaining solid mental health is the core of our quality of life, from childhood continuously through to old age. The Center for Disease Control explains that mental health “includes our emotional, psychological, and social well-being. It affects how we think, feel, and act. It also helps determine how we handle stress, relate to others, and make healthy choices.”
How Hearing Loss Impacts Mental Health
The consequences of untreated hearing loss on mental health are relatively easily to chart. Which is good because it cannot be overstated how important it is to intervene, to prevent and to treat hearing loss as early as possible to avoid these accumulating risks.
Consider it: you have difficulty following conversations, especially when there is background noise or more than one person talking. And it is exhausting to constantly fill in the blanks and extrapolate meaning thru context clues. At the same time your relationships are becoming awkward. The simple intimacy and trust that smooth communication allows is slipping away. You are forced to ask people to repeat themselves or you misunderstand them. You can no longer share a whispered secret or a well-timed joke. It’s only natural that you instinctively begin to withdraw socially. This social isolation leads to depression. Depression leads to a warped sense of scale and its corresponding disorientation. Disorientation leads cognitive decline. This is the worst case scenario, but it is common and it is simple to see how easily it can happen.
The Benefits of Prevention
Now imagine at the very first signs of potential hearing loss that you recognize in yourself or a loved one, you immediately intervene. Prevention is as simple as forming good habits, habits that you stick with and abide by every time. Recognize the risky environments that you frequent: loud sporting events or concerts, perhaps your work environment. Simply wearing earplugs that will dampen the volume by 15-30 decibels buys you exponentially more safe time within proximity of the volume.
Treatment begins with making an appointment today to see one of our specialists. They will be able to gauge the specifics of your condition and your financial situation and find the hearing aid or implant option that works best for you. If it is someone you love that you are finding keeps the volume on the television uncommonly loud or is asking you to repeat yourself, normalize the upkeep of hearing health and make an appointment for both of you.
And you can start today forming good habits to ease the potential alienation that your loved one may be struggling to adapt to or fight off. Be sure to find quiet environments to talk. Minimize background noise in public spaces and at home. Be sure to enunciate clearly and address the person directly. Be patient and be sure to repeat yourself using synonyms to give context clues. These small gestures of generosity along with some basic treatments are enough to ensure that you’re doing all you can to protect the enduring mental health of your loved one.
Remember the simple trust established by a whispered secret and the easy bond secured by a well-timed joke. investing in hearing health is investigating in your ability to remain engaged and sharp and at home in your world.