Hearing loss affects about 20% of the population in the US, but it is undertreated. In fact, only one in five people who experience hearing loss and could benefit from using hearing aids to treat their hearing loss actually do. For many people, learning to “adapt” to their changing hearing abilities might seem like it’s a good thing to do, but the reality is, pretending to hear is not helpful.
Furthermore, for people who do experience hearing loss and acknowledge the condition, it takes an average of seven years before they decide to seek treatment. In this time, hearing loss could take a toll on one’s health and relationships. Hearing loss is considered an invisible condition, but the early identification and treatment of hearing loss with a hearing aid brings many palpable benefits to a person’s life.
Read on to learn more about hearing loss.
Understanding Hearing Loss
Hearing loss is different for everyone, so an experience your friend or family member may have had with their hearing loss may not necessarily apply to you. There are different degrees and configurations of hearing loss, with certain frequencies and decibels registered differently by our auditory systems. Some degrees of hearing loss make it difficult to hear higher-frequency voices, such as that of women and children.
Presbycusis is the term for age-related hearing loss, which occurs naturally as we age. Age-related hearing loss is a form of sensorineural hearing loss, which pertains to the inner ear. Another form of sensorineural hearing loss is noise-induced hearing loss, which is caused by exposure to loud sounds over a period of time. Though one in three people age 65 and older experience some degree of hearing loss, the reality is that any one at any age could experience it.
Because it is an invisible condition, people tend not to notice their hearing has changed, or if they do, they may “adapt” to hearing a certain way. People may “fake it” by reading lips or asking people to speak up or to repeat themselves.
Writer Gianluca Trombetta of Superhuman Hearing, offers an explanation for why people pretend to hear: “Some of us don’t want to interrupt the flow of the conversation or don’t want to do anything that calls attention to our hearing problem. Or maybe we just don’t know how else to deal with the situation. Especially in group conversations, we don’t want to be a burden and ask everyone to repeat everything, just so that we can be filled in – multiple times. The thing is, everyone pretends. Hearing people, too. Ha! The secret is out. Not interrupting is a cultural habit.”
While these strategies may get you through certain situations, the gradual worsening of your hearing abilities will eventually affect other areas of your life.
Benefits of Treating Hearing Loss
Hearing loss makes it difficult for us to access the various sounds in our life, from environmental sounds that give us information about where we are and what to watch out for, to speech recognition which is crucial when it comes to communication.
In treating hearing loss, you’re ensuring your safety and security. Our sense of hearing keeps us safe by alerting us of dangers around us. A car honk may tell us to hop out of the way or the alarm from the smoke detector tells us to vacate the premises. Studies have shown that people who treat hearing loss are more confident and independent moving through spaces in their life.
Treating hearing loss also improves our earning power, helping us be more productive in the workplace. And, most importantly, treating hearing loss makes sure that we remain connected to our loved ones. As we approach the holiday season, we want to be able to catch up with our family and friends that we haven’t seen in a while.
If you’ve experienced changes in your hearing, why not take this opportunity to get your hearing tested? It helps to understand the degree and configuration of your hearing loss, which requires a hearing test.
Visit Us at HearCare Rhode Island
If you believe you may be experiencing a hearing loss and you’ve been putting off treatment, consider giving yourself the gift of hearing this holiday season. You don’t have to live with untreated hearing loss and you don’t have to pretend to hear. Visit us at HearCare Rhode Island for a hearing aid test and hearing consultation.