Hearing Loss Is Under-Treated Nationally

In hearing loss, Hearing Tests by Laurie Duffy, M.S.

Laurie Duffy, M.S.
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Hearing Loss Is Under-Treated Nationally — & Why You Should Get a Hearing Test!

Did you know that hearing loss is the third most common medical condition in the US? It affects approximately 40 million Americans, with a high number of people above 65 experiencing some degree of hearing loss.

In fact, age is a common factor among those who experience hearing loss. A third of people over 60; 60% of people over 70; and 80% of people over 85 years of age experience some degree of hearing loss.

At the same time, it has been estimated that four out of five people who could benefit from hearing aids do not use them. What’s the disconnect?

New Study: Increase in the Rate of Age-Related Hearing Loss in the Older Old

In January 2017, the Journal of the American Medical Association Otolaryngology Head & Neck Surgery published a new study that revealed an “increase in the rate of age-related hearing loss in the older old.” The older old refers to people who are in the 9th or 10th decades of their lives. This study found that “the rate of age-related hearing loss is significantly greater in the 10th decade of life than in the 9th decade at all frequencies. Despite the universal presence of hearing loss in the study sample, only 59% used hearing aids.”

In other words, researchers found that while hearing loss continues to worsen as we age, “hearing aids are vastly underused despite their great potential benefit.”

Why is this?

Why People Avoid Treating Hearing Loss

There are many reasons that people avoid treating hearing loss, or deny that there is a problem to begin with. Many people give the excuse of self-consciousness in wearing hearing aids, not wanting to look like they are “old,” or perhaps embarrassment about their hearing abilities.

In addition, many people may not even be aware of having a problem with hearing. When having conversations, people may ask others to repeat themselves or may complain that everyone around them is “mumbling.” If watching TV or listening to the radio, people with untreated hearing loss may turn up the volume to uncomfortable levels.

Despite the excuses that people give, there is no reason that legitimizes the denial of hearing loss. In fact, untreated hearing loss could lead to many related issues.

Disadvantages of Leaving Hearing Loss Untreated

Untreated haring loss could lead to a number of problems, physically and emotionally.

In terms of your physical well-being, untreated hearing loss could lead to a higher risk for falls and personal safety issues (i.e. not hearing a car nearby, not hearing a fire alarm, etc.). Studies have found that people with untreated hearing loss have a higher rate of accidents and hospitalizations. Additionally, untreated hearing loss has been found to lead to an increased cognitive load, which could potentially increase the risk for dementia.

Hearing loss can be an incredibly isolating experience if it is left untreated. Higher rates of depression, stress, and anxiety have been linked to untreated hearing loss. Additionally, people who do not address their hearing issues may find themselves withdrawing from their loved ones and avoiding social situations. This could create a sense of social isolation and loneliness. Problems with speech recognition could contribute to people avoiding social contact and conversations altogether.

Schedule a Hearing Test – The First Step to Better Hearing Health!

If you are age 50 or older, hearing specialists recommend that you take a hearing test once a year. Even if there are no problems with your hearing abilities, it is important to have hearing records on file. This helps you and your hearing specialist keep track of your abilities. If your hearing abilities begin to change over time, the early detection and treatment of hearing loss can make a huge difference.

Benefits of Treating Hearing Loss

Treating hearing loss is simple and painless – it is usually treated with the prescription of hearing aids. Hearing aids – contrary to what you may believe about their size and design – have become incredibly sleek and sophisticated pieces of technology.

These days, hearing aids are “mini-computers for the ears,” and quite discreet in design. Hearing aids are able to connect to your smartphone, providing you a world of accessibility. Depending on the style and type of aid, you’ll find your devices jam-packed with excellent features to improve your listening experience.

With hearing aids, people tend to perform well on the job and stay connected to their loved ones around them. While people are concerned that hearing aids “make them look old,” in fact, hearing aids keep you connected and active!

To take steps toward better hearing health, give us a call at HearCare Rhode Island today.

HearCare Rhode Island

Reach out to our friendly team today. We look forward to helping you.

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