The holiday season is well upon us and this means many of us are braving the cold temperatures as well as cold and flu season to join together for the shortest days of the year. We may share food, music and stories of the past year, and as this one comes to a close we look forward to 2023 to see what it has in store for us. What do you want to call into fruition for the next year? Did you find yourself asking people to repeat themselves at the last gathering? Did you find it hard to follow along with conversations when you were in a large group? If you can relate it’s like you have a hearing loss. We can’t say for sure, but one thing we know is that it’s never a bad idea to test your hearing. Early detection can make all the difference in protecting the quality of your relationships, your cognitive health and physical independence.
Diagnosing a Hearing Loss
Hearing loss often develops slowly over many years—even decades. Because of its slow progression, it can often be slippery to self-diagnose. The brain rationalizes the loss and it’s not until you are at a loud party when you struggle enough to consider that it may be more than just issues hearing over ambient noise. Your friends, family and co-workers may notice but not identify the cause exactly. For all they know, you appear disinterested when they are addressing you and distracted. It’s common for others to mistake an untreated hearing loss as you not paying attention. One way to make a difference this year is to look out for signs of hearing loss in yourself and in those around you. Common signs to look out for include:
- You ask people to repeat themselves often
- You need to turn up the TV volume higher than is comfortable to others
- Issues hearing over the phone
- A persistent ringing in the ears (tinnitus)
- People’s voices sound muffled
- You can’t hear sounds others are referring to
Hearing Loss and its Impact on Relationships
Communication is the cornerstone of most relationships. When hearing loss sets in it makes it hard to listen and respond. Whether you and your family, friends and co-workers can diagnose it or not, an unaddressed hearing loss will put rifts in your home life and impact your ability to truly succeed in the workplace. As your home life feels strained and you are given less responsibility at work due to regular misunderstandings and mistakes it can impact your confidence, self-esteem and contribute to chronic depression. You may feel less confident to go out, try new things and feel in control of your life.
Hearing Aids for Your Cognitive Health
It’s important to identify the impact that addressing your hearing with hearing aids can make. While hearing loss in 90 percent of cases is irreversible, it can be treated by amplifying the sounds you struggle with hearing aids. Still, of those who could benefit from them, only around 30 percent have ever even tried them. When we live with untreated hearing loss we are less social and are forced to fill in missing parts of words we just can’t hear. Many people understand how this may impact how we relate to the people around us and don’t consider how this affects our cognitive health. When our brains are forced to work harder to hear, year after year and we become less social it simultaneously stresses our brain more while causing under stimulation. This is why those with unaddressed hearing loss are statistically at a higher risk for cognitive decline and dementia than those who treat their hearing or have normal hearing ability.
The Physical Impact of Hearing Loss
When we have less motivation to be social due to communication issues which leave us feeling exhausted it makes us less active. However, our hearing also helps us stay more aware of our surroundings. For those of us with hearing loss we are more likely to miss important sounds around us which inform us of our environments, and this can be dangerous. Those with unaddressed hearing loss are more likely to suffer falls or accidents which lead to hospitalization.
In 2023, what better way to invest in multiple things with a single action. Invest in richer relationships, stronger cognitive health and increased mobility by scheduling a hearing exam with us today!