When’s the right time for a hearing check?
It’s probably sooner than you think. The human brain is so good at adapting that you may be just getting by on less-than-optimal hearing — without knowing what you’re missing.
As the old story goes, there’s good news and bad news about hearing loss. The good news is that the human brain — your brain — is amazingly good at adapting to things like progressive hearing loss. You may be suffering from a deficit right now and be hardly aware of it because you’ve found ways to compensate — simple things like turning your head and leaning forward to hear better or asking people to repeat what they’ve said; or waiting for the conversation to move on so you can catch up.
Hearing Loss Symptoms
You might have hearing loss if you...
- require frequent repetition
- have difficulty following conversations involving more than 2 people.
- think that other people sound muffled or like they're mumbling
- have difficulty hearing in noisy situations, like conferences, restaurants, malls, or crowded meeting rooms.
- have trouble hearing children and women.
- have your TV or radio turned up to a high volume.
- answer or respond inappropriately in conversations.
- have ringing in your ears.
- read lips or more intently watch people's faces when they speak with you.
- feel stressed out from straining to hear what others are saying.
- feel annoyed at other people because you can't hear or understand them.
- feel embarrassed to meet new people or from misunderstanding what others are saying.
- feel nervous about trying to hear and understand.
- withdraw from social situations that you once enjoyed because of difficulty hearing.
- have a family history of hearing loss.
- take medications that can harm the hearing system (ototoxic drugs).
- have diabetes, heart, circulation, or thyroid problems.
- have been exposed to very loud sounds over a long period or single exposure to explosive noise.
Consequences of Hearing Loss
Many people are aware that their hearing has deteriorated but are reluctant to seek help. Perhaps they don't want to acknowledge the problem, are embarrassed by what they see as a weakness, or believe that they can "get by" without using a hearing aid. And, unfortunately, too many wait years, even decades, before getting treatment.
But time and again, research demonstrates the considerable negative social, psychological, cognitive, and health effects of untreated hearing loss...with far-reaching implications that go well beyond hearing alone. Those who have difficulty hearing can experience such distorted and incomplete communication that it seriously impacts their professional and personal lives, at times leading to isolation and withdrawal.
Studies have linked untreated hearing loss to:
- irritability, negativism, and anger
- fatigue, tension, stress, and depression
- avoidance or withdrawal from social situations
- social rejection and loneliness
- reduced alertness and increased risk to personal safety
- impaired memory and ability to learn new tasks
- reduced job performance and earning power
- diminished psychological and overall health
Studies have additionally found that, if you have hearing loss and it goes untreated into later adulthood, you have a greater chance of developing dementia. Yes, untreated hearing loss can lead to dementia
Types of Hearing Loss
Hearing loss can occur at any age, for any number of reasons and those it affects have their own particular story to tell.
In general, there are three types of hearing loss: conductive, sensorineural, or mixed.